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Fresh off winning the Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013, Ong Lin Kern represented Malaysia in the Think Blue. World Championship 2013 that has just concluded in Germany. It was the first time a Malaysian took part in the global competition since it started three years ago.

Last month, Ong bagged Volkswagen Group Malaysia’s “most fuel efficient driver” title by recording the highest overall score among 30 finalists from the country. He came up tops in the five unique tests that made up the national competition, and earned his right to have a go at the international title.

The competition was designed to spread the message on fuel efficiency and to encourage a change in driving behaviours that could contribute to lower carbon emissions. We’ve covered the Think Blue. – National Challenge 2013 in detail before, which you can read here.

One of the five challenges was to drive a standard Volkswagen Golf 1.4 TSI over a 21 km route as efficiently as possible, to act as a real-world fuel efficiency test. The challenge recorded a best average of 3.7 litres per 100 km, bettering the Golf TSI’s official claimed combined figure of 5.0 litres/100 km.

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That’s a remarkable 27 km per litre of fuel, as a result of applying eco-conscious driving techniques throughout the challenge. Simple, logical changes can lead to big gains in fuel efficiency, which is precisely the message of Think Blue. – Volkswagen’s global campaign towards ecological sustainability.

In Germany, Ong faced off against 16 other participants, each a national champion in their own right, in a long 592 km-drive from Berlin to Frankfurt am Main, via Wolfsburg and Weimar. Their trusty steed for the journey was the latest Volkswagen Golf TDI Bluemotion Mk7.

The German pair of Volker Müller-Tönnissen and his son Jörn-Luca Müller- Tönnissen produced the most efficient performance driving of all, averaging a mere 3.48 litres/100 km (28.7 km per litre). Second and third place went to the teams from the Canary Islands (3.36 liters/100 km) and Russia (3.67 liters/100 km).

These are all real-world figures, recorded over real roads and traffic conditions. Plus, each competing car carried three occupants throughout the trip, and was further balanced with ballast weights so that the load in all vehicles was identical at 294.4 kg.

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Ong didn’t quite manage to win this one; the Malaysian finishing thirteenth overall with a fuel consumption figure of 4.08 litres/100 km. He did however, beat the teams from Mexico, Ireland, Argentina and the USA.

Of his experience driving in Germany, Ong commented, “It was exciting and challenging as I needed to get used to the road signs, landscape, and the overall traffic driving from Wolfsburg to Frankfurt. It was also interesting to be able to meet the winners from other countries and to exchange additional fuel saving driving tips.”

“Prior to taking part in the Volkswagen Think Blue. Challenge, I never thought of how my driving style could affect fuel consumption and carbon emission. I guess as a regular driver, we tend to take things for granted. I’m glad that the Think Blue. Challenge has taught me useful fuel saving tips and has definitely made me become more aware of the environmental difference I can make as a driver,” added Ong.

The Think Blue. World Championship 2013 was a unique rally where contestants must not only demonstrate their fuel-saving driving skills, but also prove their knowledge of Think Blue. Along the way, the participants had to master various challenges on fuel-efficient driving and alternative drive technologies.

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At the Volkswagen test centre in Ehra-Lessien, they experienced the differences between the diesel-powered Golf TDI BlueMotion, the natural gas-powered eco-up! and full hybrids such as the Touareg Hybrid. Another highlight was for them to test drive the Volkswagen XL1, the world’s most fuel-efficient vehicle, as well as the new e-up!.

Volkswagen Group Malaysia Managing Director Dr Zeno Kerschbaumer said, “The Think Blue. World Championship 2013 demonstrates Volkswagen’s continuous effort to reduce CO2 emissions without compromising on driving performance and fun for the customer. It conveys perfectly the spirit of Think Blue. and we hope that this effort by our brand has successfully encouraged greater awareness for all drivers globally.”

“At Volkswagen, we drive sustainability by offering cutting-edge automotive technologies such as TSI and DSG to bring drivers low-emission vehicles and to encourage drivers to adopt and exercise a more eco-conscious driving behaviour. We firmly believe that the combination of these two vital elements can effectively result in long-term sustainability and environmental protection.”

Click here for more on Volkswagen’s Think Blue. initiative, or visit the official Think Blue. Malaysia website here.