The Rally at Monte Carlo is on every car guy’s bucket list, as the historic race has roots dating back over 100 years. I cannot imagine anything more amazing than screaming through the tight roads of the French Riviera, though in recent years a quieter competition has been taking place. The Alternative Energy Rally pits the top green cars from around the world against each other, and in past years it has been the Tesla Roadster on top.
But this year Tesla will have a lot of competition in the form of the Opel Ampera, cousin to the Chevy Volt. The alt-fuel rally version of the Monte Carlo Rally has gained popularity over the years, and 2012 should see a record 150 participants in a race whose purpose is the best mpg, rather than the fastest time. With Volt owners like Jay Leno getting over 2,000 mpg while daily driving their plug-in hybrids, the Ampera’s debut run at the rally is sure to put some other competitors on edge.
Indeed, where the Chevy Volt has been met with lukewarm (at best) sales in America, over in Europe the Ampera is sold out for months on end. But it won’t be the only high-end alt-fuel vehicle at the rally. Volkswagen, Ford, and a host of privateers piloting everything from Tesla Roadsters to Reliant Robins, the competition is sure to be stuff.
Is this the new face of motorsports? While I will always have a place in my heart for huge horsepower cars, I am fascinated by the techniques employed by hypermilers to get the most out of their alt-fuel vehicles. And it’s a lot cheaper to run an mpg rally than to be competitive at almost any level of “real” motorsports. Food for thought friends, food for thought…