Viking Road Rally

In 2007 I went on a month-long road rally across the US, Mex­ico, and most of Cen­tral Amer­ica using waste grease and biodiesel. Pic­tures and descrip­tions from our vis­its to sus­tain­able biodiesel pro­duc­ers along the way can be found here. One of my fel­low trav­el­ers was Bjorn Kruse, the advanced vehi­cle spe­cial­ist for the Nor­we­gian envi­ron­men­tal non-profit orga­ni­za­tion “Zero”.  Bjornar decided to orga­nize a shorter rally for high tech Zero Emis­sion Vehi­cles in Nor­way.  Ford Motor Com­pany and the Hynor Group spon­sored myself and race car dri­ver Leilani Munter and pro­vided us with a Hydro­gen fuel cell Ford Focus, and on May 10th we were in Oslo and ready to go. Unfor­tu­nately the vehi­cle had been dam­aged in trans­port and we went to sleep think­ing that we were out of the rally.

Twenty min­utes before the start our car arrived and we were off.  At one of the first stops we were greeted by a num­ber of car fanat­ics with their clas­sic vehi­cles and repli­cas like the one shown here of the first elec­tric vehi­cle.

suz and leilani EV large

Dur­ing down time we also checked out some of the other vehi­cles in the rally like the EV called the Buddy made by a Nor­we­gian com­pany, and this electric-pedal car pro­duced in Germany.

The rally was designed to test both the dri­vers and the vehi­cles, but prov­ing that these cleaner tech­nolo­gies can be as fun and high per­form­ing as con­ven­tional cars was a key goal.

roadrally_collage

Unfor­tu­nately the drive shaft that was bro­ken in trans­port and only par­tially fixed, failed dur­ing the slalom course, tak­ing us out of the competition.

break down

For­tu­nately the mechan­ics were able to patch it up again enough so that we could “limp” to the fin­ish line. The bright side was that on day three, because we were no longer com­pet­ing, we were able to have Sabine Flanz, the head Research Engi­neer, for Hydro­gen Fuel Cell Tech­nol­ogy for Ford in Europe, ride with us which gave us a lot of time to dis­cuss the ins and outs of fuel cell tech­nol­ogy, H fuel cells ver­sus EVs, etc.  While the EVs could charge up any­where they could plug in an exten­sion cord, their range was quite lim­ited and charg­ing requires sev­eral hours, so the H fuel cell cars had a huge advan­tage with range and speed of re-fueling (about the same as refu­el­ing a con­ven­tional car).  The down­side is of course the need for spe­cial­ized H pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­b­u­tion, and refu­el­ing infra­struc­ture.  In Nor­way the grid is 100% renew­able, so the H was pro­duced from green electricity.

Leilani Munter posing for press shots.

Suzanne, Leilani, and Sabine