Thirty finalists challenged each other in a series of tests in Ayer Keroh, Melaka, and the search is now over. Ong Lin Kern emerged as the overall contest winner, crowned by Volkswagen Group Malaysia as the country’s most fuel efficient driver. The selection process wasn’t an easy one, and we were there to witness it first hand.
The Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013 consisted of five challenges, each with its own unique rules of engagement, that the 30 participants had to go through. Results of individual tests were taken into account for the final standing order, though the scores were weighted differently in favour of the more vital challenges.
First up was a straightforward written quiz on basic Think Blue. principles. It’s not as simple as you’d think, this one. Questions like “What does DSG stand for?” and “Which Volkswagen model is the world’s most fuel efficient vehicle?” were easy enough to answer (Direct Shift Gearbox; XL1), but others weren’t so kind.
Who could guess off the cuff that short trips can increase fuel consumption by up to 30 litres/100 km? And how much fuel does the car air-conditioning system use? Answer anything other than two litres per 100 km and you’d be wrong. You can read all the questions here, and do tell us if you can correctly answer them all. Without cheating :).
Station Two required a little more physical involvement, with 18 large cubes in play. Contestants were asked to match each of the nine Think Blue. principles to their corresponding icons. Get them all correct, and the timer stops. Shortest time gets the most points, naturally.
Among them were “Drive in the highest gear possible,” and “Use overrun fuel cutoff.” The latter refers to coasting while in gear, instead of engaging neutral when going downhill or approaching a red traffic light. Used as such, modern engines use precisely zero fuel during coasting. A neat and very effective hypermiling trick.
In Station Three, participants played the Think Blue. interactive video game on iPads. The point was to drive the virtual car as far as possible with limited fuel, by minimising fuel usage. Light, constant throttle, minimal braking, steering smoothly to avoid scrubbing off speed; all came into play.
Questions in between driving stages allowed players the chance of winning extra fuel. Driving the furthest in the least amount of time won the game. Immersive, entertaining and educational all at the same time, the Think Blue. iPad game prepared the players for what was to come next: real-world challenges.
Station Four put participants behind the wheel of a Volkswagen Polo Sedan. Attached to the hood was a shallow open bowl containing an orange. As in the fruit. The point was to manoeuvre around the short slalom course as quickly as possible without allowing the orange to roll off the vehicle.
For this you’d have to be extremely smooth with your pedal control and steering input, as any drastic measures would force the orange out. Speed was also a factor, so it was a real balancing act, both metaphorically and literally. Smooth and steady won this one.
Applied to real-life daily driving, being smooth does reduce fuel consumption, and by a bigger margin than you’d think too. Using less throttle would obviously improve the car’s fuel consumption rate, while minimal steering and braking inputs would allow the vehicle to utilise the most of the used fuel.
Brake harder than you need and you’ll have to accelerate back up to speed again, using more fuel in the process. Feed more steering lock in an abrupt manner and you’d scrub off too much speed than necessary, and the cycle continues. Being smooth is the key to a lot of things, including driving efficiently.
The last challenge, real-world fuel efficiency test, had the biggest weightage towards the final scores. Results for this test accounted for 50% of the total scores (balancing drive made up 30%, the rest 10% each) and so was clearly the most crucial challenge.
Each driver was tasked to drive a Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI around a pre-determined route as efficiently as possible, and the one to average the best fuel economy would come out tops. The 21-kilometre route took them on real roads, through traffic and traffic lights, junctions, inclines, downhill slopes; everything you’d encounter in normal driving.
Each car was set the same way for every participant: headlights on, windows up, with the climate control set on automatic. It was up to the contestants’ own prerogative to play around with the setup to achieve the best results. As goes without saying, this was where the competition heated up.
The best result of the day was a scarcely believable 3.7 litres per 100 km, far bettering the Golf TSI’s official claimed combined figure of 5.0 litres/100 km. That equates to over 27 km per litre of fuel used, all over real-world roads. That’s beyond hybrid territory! Not bad for a car that’s capable of an 8.4 second 0-100 km/h sprint and 200 km/h top speed.
Results of all five challenges accounted for, Ong Lin Kern was announced as the overall champion of the Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013. The musician edged out Ong Wu Zhuan and Chew Fun Sing in second and third places respectively, who each received a trophy and a smartphone for their efforts.
As the national champion, Ong Lin Kern is set to represent Malaysia in the Think Blue. – World Championship 2013, which will be held in Germany from September 6 to 10, to stand a chance to become the world’s most fuel-efficient Think Blue. champion.
“I am very delighted to win the challenge. I am even more excited to be representing Malaysia at the Think Blue. – World Championship 2013. Competing in Germany is nerve-wrecking but at the same time thrilling. I look forward to represent Malaysia in the global platform, and I will certainly do my best in bringing home a trophy,” said the winner.
Think Blue. champions from around the world will take part in the world championship by competing against each other in a drive from Wolfsburg to Frankfurt next month. The world champion will be determined based on the lowest amount of fuel used to complete the distance.
The Think Blue. campaign is Volkswagen’s holistic approach to sustainability. It heightens awareness of more efficient driving and shows that all drivers can make their own personal contribution to environmental protection without sacrificing driving pleasure.
Think Blue. lies at the very heart of Volkswagen’s ethos that champions the call for reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions across the globe through its eco-friendly products and solutions. It is about sustainability and environmental responsibility – not just in cars, but in everything we do, every day.
In Malaysia, Think Blue. was rolled out with the introduction of core technologies such as TSI and DSG in Volkswagen’s product lineup. TSI and DSG represent the automaker’s downsizing strategy of offering maximum power and torque with minimum fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
Volkswagen’s 1.4 litre TSI engine has won the Engine of the Year award for the eighth consecutive time in the 1.0 to 1.4 litre category. It’s certainly no slouch, and as proven in this contest, it can be extremely fuel efficient if driven the right way.
Exciting Think Blue. times are ahead for Volkswagen. Building low-emission vehicles is just the beginning. Think Blue. is an attitude that goes beyond technologies and products. It really is about doing little things that make a big difference.
For Ong Lin Kern, the Think Blue. – World Championship 2013 is his next target. Let us all wish him good luck at the world meet. As for the rest out there, Volkswagen Group Malaysia has hinted that there will be another round of the Think Blue. – National Challenge next year, so 2014 might be your year.
In the meantime, read up on the Think Blue. principles at the bottom of the gallery below and start practicing them daily. Be aware and save fuel. Think Blue.