The Mercedes-Benz Paris to Beijing rally is now over after traversing 2 continents, nine countries and 8,700 miles in 25 five driving days. The fleet of 36 E320 diesels covered the distance without any significant problems and had a combined fuel consumption of 28.3 mpg. The cars were mechanically stock, with the only modifications being the winter tires and a 2 inch increase in ride height to compensate for the anticipated poor road conditions. The fleet was comprised of 18 rear wheel drive and 18 all wheel drive models and three of the cars were equipped with BlueTec. Part of the rally consisted a competition to see which team could get the best fuel economy. The overall winner was the eBay team that achieved an average of 32.7 mpg over the entire distance. The "German Taxi" team managed 42.8 mpg over the 383 mile leg from Lanzhou to Wuhai. The 36 cars consumed 40,530 liters of low sulfur diesel, which was 10,000 liters less than originally estimated. The full Mercedes release is after the jump.
The fascinating long distance drive from Paris to Beijing ends successfully
The Greatest Diesel Marathon of All Times Reaches Its Final Destination in Beijing – Best Average Consumption of Only 7.19 l/100 km (32.7 mpg) Over 14,000 Kilometres
Beijing – The longest diesel marathon of all times ended successfully in Beijing today. The 36 Mercedes-Benz E-Class cars, which left Paris on 21 October on a transcontinental rally covering about 14,000 kilometres, arrived safe and sound in the Chinese capital after traversing Europe and Asia. Through this endurance test under extreme conditions Mercedes-Benz has once again demonstrated the outstanding performance of its modern diesel engines in terms of emissions, fuel economy and reliability. Proof of this is also the fuel consumption of the victorious "Ebay" team which won the fuel economy contest with an average of 7.19 l/100 km diesel. The best result on a daily leg was as low as
5.5 l/100 km.
"During this endurance test for a total of more than 500,000 kilometres, the 33 E 320 CDI and three E 320 BLUETEC impressively showed the potential of our high-tech diesels . They proved that driving enjoyment, great fuel economy and environmental compatibility are not mutually exclusive" said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler AG responsible for the Mercedes Car Group. "At the same time, the long distance drive from Paris to Beijing rendered the qualities of the new E-Class generation more tangible. The E-Class has lived up to all the promises that we had previously made to the participants and our customers.", he added. Today's grand finale of the long distance drive took place at Beijing's historic Yongding Gate, the southern access point to the "Holy Axis" of the Forbidden City.
During the five legs of the "E-Class Experience" more than 360 drivers from 35 countries took turns at the steering wheels of the diesel sedans. In only 25 driving days they passed through nine countries under partly extreme conditions, such as snow and ice, as well as unpaved roads. The average daily driving distance was about 560 kilometres. Together with the 24 escort vehicles, which ranged from the G-Classes of the Mercedes-Benz crew and technical trucks to the mobile diesel service station, the marathon entourage covered a total road distance of about 840,000 kilometers. This corresponds to the 21-fold circumference of the earth at the equator.
Five legs from Europe to Asia
After the start in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower on 21 October, the route of the "E-Class Experience" initially led through France, Germany, Poland and the Baltics to St. Petersburg, where the first change of drivers took place after seven days. In this case, the route followed the path of the legendary first transcontinental automobile race held 99 years ago, which ran in the opposite direction from Beijing to Paris and wrote automotive history.
The second group steered the E-Classes through Russia and over the snow-covered Urals to Yekaterinburg, while the third group drove through the hot, late-summer weather in the steppes of Kazakhstan to Almaty. The high-point of this leg of about 2500 kilometres was the overnight stay with Kazakh guest families in the small town of Balchasch - organized by the local mayor.
In many places the convoy was spontaneously surrounded and joyfully greeted by local people who appreciated their striking and unusual design. All participating E-Class cars are decorated with the flags of the participating nations, in order to underline the internationality of the long distance drive.
Through the Taklamakan Desert onto the Silk Road
Last Wednesday the diesel marathon crossed the barrier between Kazakhstan and our destination country, China, as the last of eight border crossings along the route. The final change of groups took place in Lanzhou on the Yellow River after crossing the Taklamakan Desert and driving about 1000 kilometres on the legendary Silk Road. From there, the last 1700 kilometres led to the south of the Gobi desert and through the grass steppes of Inner Mongolia. Yesterday evening the teams of the "E-Class Experience" spent their last night in Badaling at the Chinese Wall.
Record breaking consumption figures: 5.5 litres/100 km and 5,300 bananas
The Ebay" team in car number 3 won the fuel economy contest over the entire distance with a consumption of only 7,19 l/100 km. Thanks to their economical driving style, the "German Taxi" team only needed 5.5 liters of diesel for every 100 kilometers on the 616 kilometer-long drive from Lanzhou to Wuhai. The figures are especially remarkable because all participating cars are standard production E-Classes with 165 kW/224 HP. And: The luxury sedans didn't have it easy. They where fully loaded with up to three passengers and numerous pieces of luggage. Because of the anticipated bad road conditions and cold weather all cars were equipped with winter tires and a suspension that was raised by five centimeters.
With a low total average consumption of 8.32 l/100 km diesel fuel for all 36 Vehicles the goal of demonstrating the diesel engines' superior fuel efficiency was clearly met on the individual legs as well as over the entire distance. In total the fleet of 36 vehicles consumed about 40,530 liters of low sulfur diesel fuel. That is about 20 percent or 10,000 liters less than originally estimated. The participating 18 rear-wheel drive vehicles consumed only 8.01 l/100 km diesel, while the 18 4MATIC models with four-wheel drive ended up with a slightly higher average of 8.53 l/100 km.
The 360 participants and 40-person support team had relatively higher consumption: In addition to breakfast and dinners, between Paris and Beijing they consumed about 8,200 lunch sandwiches, 5,300 bananas, 4,000 chocolate bars and 9,600 bottles of mineral water. All participants endured the strains of the marathon - apart from occasional upset stomachs - in good health, which luckily left the two-person physician team accompanying the entire tour with hardly anything to do.
Five fender benders but no dropouts
The 36 diesel sedans of the participants and the nine E 320 CDI of the crew proved to be both safe and reliable over the total covered distance of 640,000 E-Class kilometres. Despite the partly extreme road and traffic conditions there were no serious accidents, and only five fender benders occurred in traffic. Thanks to this, all cars which started in Paris reached their final destination in Beijing. The spare parts needed for the entire drive consisted of only three bumpers, two fenders, an alloy wheel, four windshields, and a rear light. In addition the list mentions twelve electric bulbs, an alternator (following a courageous water passage away from the planned route) and 20 tires, which were changed with breathtaking speed by the traveling Michelin service team. Otherwise, the technical crew had "no special incidents" to report, except for two more figures for the statistics: a total engine oil consumption of just eight liters and the use of over 110 liters of window cleaning fluid.
Extensive logistics behind the scenes
The success of the diesel-marathon depended on extensive logistics. As part of the preparations, nearly 5,000 hotel rooms in 27 cities had to be booked in advance, hundreds of visas obtained, flights booked and materials transported into the most remote areas of Russia, Kazakhstan and China. Even the diesel fuel for the fleet was distributed in advance among the stations along the route. The low-sulfur diesel needed for modern engines is not available on more than 10,000 kilometres of the route. In total 110,000 liters of super-diesel were allocated in daily rations and sent in containers along the journey. The fuel for Russia was imported via Finland because of the simpler customs procedures, while the diesel for Kazakhstan travelled through Poland and Belarus. The containers for China were initially shipped to Shanghai, from where they were taken by trucks to the intermediate stations along the 5,000 kilometer long route through the Middle Kingdom.
The world's cleanest diesel engines
The E-Class fleet that had started in Paris on 21 October is comprised of 36 serial E-Class models with clean diesel engines, half of which are equipped with the all wheel drive 4MATIC. In addition to the 33 E 320 CDI, three E-Classes with BLUETEC went into the field. This new technology turns the Mercedes-Benz sedan into the cleanest diesel of the world. The E 320 BLUETEC has the first and only diesel engine worldwide that can outperform the current "BIN 8" US exhaust emission standard, particularly with respect to its nitrogen oxide emissions. The E 320 BLUETEC will initially be offered in the USA (in 45 states) and Canada and consumes up to 30 percent less fuel than comparable vehicles with gasoline engines in North America. Thanks to its enormous range of up to 1,200 kilometres on one fuel tank it is the ideal car for a marathon such as Paris-Beijing, something of which the alternating drivers could personally convince themselves.
A taxi trip for 40,000 Euros
The most unusual vehicles in the fleet were the two E-Class taxi cabs which accompanied the convoy over the total distance. In this case, the competitive comparison showed clear cost differences. The fare in the German taxi came to 16,050 Euros at the end of the fourth leg after just 12,000 kilometres. The trip in the Parisian taxi would have been clearly more expensive: At that point, the meter already displayed the proud amount of 34,090 Euros. Until the arrival in Beijing, the total will have come to nearly 40,000 Euros.