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The Zimbabwe to Cape Town Economy Run

Aug 18, 2016 | Volkswagen Article Archive
The Zimbabwe to Cape Town Economy Run

The Volkswagen Team Sets New Records in the 2016 Economy Run

All set and ready to get on the road, at 11:30am on the 22nd of July 2016 the Zimbabwe to Cape Town Economy Run team started their engines. the team dedicated this years’ Economy Run to Jan Hettema, who was tragically lost a few weeks before.. Leaving from Beitbridge on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa, the team was more determined than ever to break their previous records.


Assembling the Record Breaking Economy Run Team
This year the Zimbabwe to Cape Town Economy Run Volkswagen team consisted of six drivers with extensive economy, rally and motor racing experience. They were; Malcolm Kinsey, the record class winner of the Total Economy Run, Con Engelbrecht, Schalk van Heerden, Huibert Phielix, Ken Sink and Rod Kinsey. Lastly; Cobus Grobelaar, having completed 18 Total Economy Runs himself, was appointed as clerk of the course.


The 2011 Economy Run Record
Previously Volkswagen broke the Total Economy Run records in two Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion 1.6 TDIs. Over a distance of 1941km on a single tank, the 2011 Total Economy Run champions achieved an average fuel consumption of 4.37ℓ per 100km. Over the same route; from Beitbridge to Cape Town on the N1, then on to the N7 up the west coast, the 2016 contenders were the Volkswagen Passat 1.4 TSI petrol and the Porshe Panamera 3ℓ V6 diesel.


Economy Test Runs and Logistics
In preparation for the Economy Run, tests were carried out with the intention of simulating the expected conditions during the event. In addition to the test runs, planning accommodation and liaising with SANRAL were integral aspects of planning the event. SANRAL helped to secure assistance at the stop and go maintenance points along the route. All of this planning ahead of time helped to negate the adverse effects of the abnormal stop and go conditions on the fuel economy of the cars.


D-Day for Economy Run Record Breaking
The Economy Run began in Beitbridge and stopped overnight in Pretoria. On the second day the team left from Pretoria and stopped overnight again in Bloemfontein. Leaving in the wee hours on Sunday morning for the last stretch, they set off for Cape Town. Only running out of fuel on the N7 nearing Moorreeesburg, the Passat beat Volkswagens previous record, smashing the 2000km wall. The Passat reached 2029km, achieving an average fuel consumption of 4.1ℓ per 100km. The Porsche Panamera ran out of petrol after covering a total distance of 2 201km, leaving its fuel consumption at 4.9ℓ per 100km.


Economy Run Veteran Fuel Tricks
Behind the scenes the team members had to apply various tricks and techniques in order to ensure the best fuel economy possible. One of the most interesting things about fuel is that just like alcohol, petrol and diesel expand and contract with temperature change. In order to pack their fuel tanks with as much nutritive material, the teams left their fuel filled jerry cans under cold wet cloths on wet grass. By the morning the temperatures were near freezing and the fuel had contracted enough to make a very big difference to the amount of fuel they managed to pack into the Passat and Panamera fuel tanks.


Volkswagen’s Fuel Economy Tips
Getting more kilometres out of a tank of fuel is actually pretty easy when you use these same fuel saving tricks that the Volkswagen Economy Run team used.

• Don’t use the air conditioner, rather open the sunroof slightly to allow air into the car. The air conditioner uses additional petrol and keeping the windows open causes additional drag which will increase fuel consumption.

• Ensure the car tyres are all pumped to the maximum recommended pressure, this will also help to minimise the resistance of the car.

• Anticipate the road ahead to prevent harsh braking and harsh accelerating which are known fuel-guzzling habits.

• Keeping your car at low revs throughout the journey is also a good way to save on fuel. While both the Volkswagen Passat and Porsche Panamera used in the Economy Run were automatic vehicles, the drivers were able to switch over to manual in order to wield extra control over the fuel consumption.


Free from any unexpected disasters, the Zimbabwe to Cape Town Economy Run set two new South African records for the lowest fuels consumption. Volkswagen is now back up in pole position when it comes to fuel economy, while the Economy Run also ensured the Passat some well-deserved recognition within the fuel economic division. Jan Hettema would have been proud to say the least!