Financial powerhouses WesBank and First National Bank (FNB) are joining forces to sponsor a five-day Fuel Economy Tour of South Africa that will provide motorists not only with definitive fuel consumption figures but also indicative traveling times between major centers in the country.
The event, for standard production passenger cars and light commercials, will take place from November 12-16 and will involve a five-day drive on major roads from Johannesburg to Cape Town via Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, and George, with a total combined distance of 2 500km.
For many years there have been doubts about manufacturers’ claimed fuel consumption figures, which are obtained in laboratory conditions. So WesBank and FNB are now sponsoring an event dedicated to obtaining realistic fuel consumption figures over a significant distance on roads well-travelled by South African motorists and transport companies. This data will be invaluable for potential vehicle buyers as they research which model to buy. It also ties in with the helping hand that WesBank and FNB always like to extend to their customers and potential customers.
The cost of fuel is a major budget item for all motorists and transport companies in South Africa as the country battles with an economic downturn and ever-increasing fuel prices – now the highest in history. The effects of these rising fuel prices impact every person in the country, either directly or indirectly as well as on the cost of moving goods which in turn forces up prices.
Fuel consumption figures are of growing importance when buying a new or pre-owned vehicle. However, manufacturers figures, which are obtained under controlled conditions in a laboratory, are not realistic for the everyday motorist. There have also been ongoing scandals for the past several years regarding the validity of fuel consumption and emission data supplied by manufacturers. A number of vehicle makers have been involved in these misrepresentations of important data.
Disappointing fuel consumption from their new vehicles is the most common cause for complaint by South African motorists according to recent research conducted by Ipsos, which produces annual data on vehicle product quality and dealer service levels. Perceived poor fuel economy was the number one complaint for 11 vehicle categories, from compact hatchbacks to pick-up trucks in their latest product survey.
Members of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) were supportive of this planned WesBank Fuel Economy Tour in partnership with FNB when it was presented at a meeting with their senior executives last year. Subsequently, many individual manufacturers and importers have given their enthusiastic backing to the project.
The fact that WesBank and FNB, are partnering on this event as a joint venture – the WesBank Fuel Economy Tour in partnership with FNB – makes a lot of sense as it is relevant and beneficial for companies that are very much consumer facing and customer centric.
Commenting on the sponsorship of this new event Ghana Msibi, Executive Head of WesBank’s Motor Division, said: “WesBank, long time market leader in vehicle and asset finance in South Africa, is a perfect fit for this sponsorship as it will not only provide a valuable source of fuel economy data for consumers, but relates directly to the participating vehicles and the OEMs and dealers behind them. We are also pleased that this is a joint partnership with FNB as it shows that when strong brands collaborate it is a value-add situation with benefits for all stakeholders.”
Raj Makanjee, the CEO of Retail and Private Banking at FNB and RMB Private Bank, added: “The companies I control are the link to money management where transport costs, particularly rising fuel costs, are an increasing factor in the monthly budgets of both private motorists and businesses. Therefore, we are very pleased to be a partner in this Fuel Economy Tour which will have real benefits for our customers as it stresses the importance firstly of buying a fuel efficient vehicle and secondly of driving using the fuel-saving tips that will be highlighted through this event.”
HOW WILL THE WESBANK FUEL ECONOMY TOUR IN PARTNERSHIP WITH FNB, BE ORGANISED TO OBTAIN ACCURATE AND REALISTIC FIGURES?
The objective of the upcoming WesBank Fuel Economy Tour in partnership with FNB is to obtain realistic fuel consumption figures on a variety of vehicles in everyday driving conditions over major routes in South Africa.
The data obtained will be invaluable for new vehicle buyers – be they businesses or private motorists – as fuel costs continue to rise and nowadays, make up a huge component of the cost of motoring and moving goods.
The overall organiser of this important new, South African motoring event is Pretoria-based public relations and marketing specialists Wilken Communication Management, with former multiple national motor sport champion Charl Wilken as the Project Leader and Operations Director.
“We have put together a very knowledgeable team of co-organisers with extensive experience in all aspects of motor sport, who have organised and run international rallies, and managed one of the most successful motor sport teams in South African history, in the form of Willie du Plessis and William Haddad,” explained Charl Wilken.
“Du Plessis will set the route, compile the road book (route schedule) and run the event, while Haddad is responsible for all things technical regarding the vehicles.”
“The event will be staged under the auspices of Motorsport South Africa which controls all competitive driving on public roads, but we are encouraging entrants and competitors to consider it more as a form of holiday trip with the camaraderie and spirit one sees on the Italian Mille Miglia rally for classic cars,” added Wilken. “Above all we want those involved in the WesBank Fuel Economy Tour to enjoy themselves.”
The plan going forward is to make this an annual event over the same basic route so that ongoing comparisons and a meaningful list of vehicles with their realistic fuel consumption figures can be compiled.
The rules are very straight forward to ensure that the event is run as close as possible to the real-world conditions in which a normal motorist would drive the route.
The regulations cater for all standard production passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, which will be divided into classes based on whether the engines are petrol or diesel, turbocharged or normally aspirated, as well as the engine capacity.
There will not be an overall winner, but only class winners, with brands having the opportunity to win a special award for the brand with the lowest fuel consumption for three vehicles running in different classes.
No additional equipment, such as separate odometers, may be installed in the vehicles and the co-driver may not make use of a computer.
The speeds that the competing vehicles must average on each section are set to at least 10 km/h below the speed limit for that section of road. The estimated arrival times at turn-offs and other checkpoints will be marked on the road book for each specific car to make navigating relatively simple. There will be penalties, in the form of litres of fuel, for late arrival at designated checkpoints but no penalty for early arrival.
This will be monitored again to ensure that the fuel consumption data these vehicles deliver remains relevant to everyday driving.
All road traffic regulations must be obeyed. The progress of each competing vehicle will be monitored by Ctrack in terms of following the correct route, speeding and other traffic law infringements. Each car will also be fitted with a dashcam to monitor driving behaviour such as slipstreaming and law infringements such as crossing solid white lines.
Furthermore, the fuel flaps or caps will be sealed by the organisers and resealed each time the vehicle is refuelled.
There is no limit on the number of people who may drive the car during the event, provided they do at least one full day’s drive. Co-drivers must complete the whole event. Other people may be carried in the competing vehicle provided indemnities are signed and the number of people does not exceed the approved number of occupants permitted to travel in the specific vehicle.
“We want to keep the WesBank Fuel Economy Tour in partnership with FNB as simple as possible so that the results are representative of vehicles driven over these routes, often during holiday periods, so that we can compile a set of fuel consumption data that will be increased year by year,” concluded Wilken.
Issued by Wilken Communication Management
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