Entries for the third annual RAC Future Car Challenge, which takes place on Saturday 3 November, are now being invited and for this year there are even more opportunities for manufacturers to get involved with the Challenge and events linked to it, such as the Regent Street Motor Show. The event, which is owned by the Royal Automobile Club, and sponsored by RAC Motoring Services, was first introduced in 2010 to showcase low energy use vehicles. It features competitors driving electric, hybrid, hydrogen and low-emission conventional petrol and diesel cars on a 63-mile route from Brighton to London. Now recognized as the world's leading low-energy driving challenge, the event is unique in being free to the public to spectate and a real-world test of current and future vehicle technology.
The RAC Future Car Challenge is increasingly important as awareness of low energy use and low emission vehicles begins to grow rapidly. Overall, UK new car sales rose by 7.9 per cent in May 2012 compared to the same month last year – with significant growth of 31.8 per cent of sales of hybrid petrol-electric, electric-only and range-extended cars. A spokesman for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said: "Every car manufacturer is going to have a hybrid model on its lists by the end of this year, even Ferrari."
Each year an increasing number of entries have come from motor manufacturers (large and small), individuals and research institutes. As well as vehicles currently in production, there have been many taking part that will not be on sale for three or four years – truly future cars.
The overall winner of 2011 was the T.27 built and entered by Gordon Murray Design. Murray was thrilled, speaking after the event he said: “This is the first time we've showcased the T.27 on the UK roads. This is the only event in the world that demonstrates real cars, in real conditions and where energy used is measured independently and the information made available to the public. It’s a fantastic showcase for technology and the Royal Automobile Club should be proud of the event."
As David Bizley, RAC Technical Director, says “This has become a leading event in the UK motoring calendar and arguable one of the most significant events in Europe for showcasing low-carbon technology and an inspiration for the next generation of engineers. “We are delighted to once again be sponsors of the Future Car Challenge. We see the event as playing a vital role in helping motorists understand the new technology that is becoming available and help them save money and benefit the environment.”
Ben Cussons, Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club Motoring Committee, says: "In just a couple of years the RAC Future Car Challenge has emerged as the most important annual motoring event for showcasing the vehicles people will be driving in years to come. The support from major motor manufacturers worldwide has been tremendous and many of them have already expressed their intention to enter the 2012 Challenge."
This year, in response to the increasing level of interest in the event, there has been a major increase in the number of awards categories. There is now a very wide range of categories, totalling 26 – 13 for Production Vehicles and 13 for Prototype Vehicles. The awards for Production Vehicles and for Prototype Vehicles include Most Energy Efficient vehicles by size and type (saloon, sports car, light commercial vehicle etc.) and best electric, extended range, hybrid, hydrogen and internal combustion engine vehicles.
In increasing the number of award categories, the organisers have ensured that performance comparisons with the 2011 event can still be made easily. Publication of the energy used by each vehicle taking part (in accordance with strict measurement protocols) is one of the unique features of the RAC Future Car Challenge – members of the public can see exactly how energy efficient the cars are under real-world driving conditions because of the easily interpreted measurement technology used. Entries forms are available to download from the dedicated event website, together with the regulations and full details of the vehicle categories: www.futurecarchallenge.com
In another significant innovation for this year's running of the event, a revised 63 mile route has been selected with the finish line moved to Regent Street – where the Regent Street Motor Show will be held. This free motor show provides all day displays of future technology and even the chance to drive an electric car in Mayfair. The show is a unique platform for manufacturers to display and demonstrate their new and future 'green' vehicles and developments to members of the public.
Electric car charging experts British Gas return this year as the official energy and electric vehicle charging partner, helping those taking part in the Future Car Challenge to charge their cars easily, quickly and safely.
The RAC Future Car Challenge is one of three flagship events owned by the Royal Automobile Club taking place on the weekend of 3 and 4 November 2012. The other two are the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, the world's longest running motoring event, and the Regent Street Motor Show. Together they make for the largest free-to-spectate annual motoring spectacular in the UK, if not the world.