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Short car tackles the long white cloud

29 November 2006

Short car tackles the long white cloud

Two city boys will set out from Bluff on Saturday (December 2), bound for North Cape, aiming to prove a tiny city car is a smart choice right across the country.

The drivers, Ian Parkes and Steve Camp, describe themselves as part-time ecowarriors. They are travelling the length of the nation in the country’s smallest car to prove gas-guzzling four-wheel-drives are nothing more than a fashion statement.

“Too many people think the tiny Smart Fortwo is perfect only for a stylish assault on the boutiques of Broadway or Ponsonby Rd. After all you can get two of them in one parking space. But it’s actually a practical, robust car that’s perfect for the city, the country and the whole planet,” says ecodriver Steve Camp.

E-co-pilot Ian Parkes says vast four-wheel drives are far more common in traffic jams and carparks than on the open road. “They are complete frauds. We’re going to shows that in a modern world, the tiniest cars can do it all, and owners of two and a half tonne metal monsters are the real fashion victims.”

Parkes says no-one wants to pay a fortune in petrol, and the price shock of the past year forced people to think seriously about more eco-friendly small cars – for a while.

“It’s a shame the recent drop in fuel prices has let people flop back into their bargemobiles with a big sigh like it was all a bad dream. It bothers me that we’re consuming several planets worth of resources. All of us can, and should, choose options that roll that back a bit.”

“I remember after the big fuel price shock of the 1970s, cars regularly competed in fuel economy runs. Now that we have to worry about oil running out as well as runaway prices, we thought it might be helpful to show fuel efficient cars are practical – they have street cred and country cred.”

The driving duo aim to set an economy benchmark driving at normal speeds the length of State Highway 1 as a real-world target other cars could be measured against. They aim to cover the 2040km distance in around 30 hours on the road using less than 90 litres of fuel.

“We want to show that even the smallest fuel-efficient cars today are all grown up and make sense for the town, the country and the planet,” says Steve.

Smart distributor in New Zealand, Daimler Chrysler in Auckland, is supplying the Smart Fortwo for the journey.

National Sales Manager for Mercedes, Shae Wright, says converts to the Smart Car lifestyle come from all walks of life.

“It’s not just young people buying the car, and you can’t say they want to make a fashion statement. I’d say the guys are right. The Smart car appeals to open-minded individuals who have recognised that they are fundamentally very practical cars and make a lot of sense in today’s world.”


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