Johannesburg - Wesbank and and FNB have joined forces to sponsor a first-of-its-kind five-day Fuel Economy Tour of South Africa that aims to provide motorists not only with definitive fuel consumption figures, but also indicative travelling times between major centres in the country.

The event is dedicated to obtaining realistic fuel consumption figures over a significant distance on roads well-travelled by local motorists and transport companies.

The organisers say this data could prove invaluable for potential vehicle buyers as they research which model to buy.

The cost of fuel is a major budget item for all motorists and transport companies in South Africa as the country battles with an economic downturn and ever-increasing fuel prices - now the highest in history.

The effects of these rising fuel prices impact every person in the country, either directly or indirectly as well as on the cost of moving goods which in turn forces up prices.

Fuel consumption figures are of growing importance when buying a new or pre-owned vehicle. However, manufacturer figures, which are obtained under controlled conditions are, arguaby, unrealistic for the everyday motorist.

There have also been ongoing scandals for the past several years regarding the validity of fuel consumption and emission data supplied by particular manufacturers. A number of vehicle makers have been involved in these misrepresentations of important data.

Disappointing fuel consumption from their new vehicles is the most common cause for complaint by motorists according to recent research conducted by Ipsos, which produces annual data on vehicle product quality and dealer service levels.

Perceived poor fuel economy was the number one complaint for 11 vehicle categories, from compact hatchbacks to pick-up trucks in their latest product survey.

Members of the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of SA (NAAMSA) were supportive of this planned Fuel Economy Tour when it was presented at a meeting with their senior executives last year. Subsequently, many individual manufacturers and importers have given their enthusiastic backing to the project.

The finance bosses say:

Ghana Msibi, executive head of WesBank’s motor division, says: “We are a perfect fit for this event as it will not only provide a valuable source of fuel economy data for consumers, but relates directly to the participating vehicles and the OEMs and dealers behind them.”

Raj Makanjee, chief executive of retail and private banking at FNB and RMB private bank, adds: “The companies I control are the link to money management where transport costs, particularly rising fuel costs, are an increasing factor in the monthly budgets of both private motorists and businesses. Therefore, we are very pleased to be a partner in this Fuel Economy Tour which will have real benefits for our customers as it stresses the importance firstly of buying a fuel efficient vehicle and secondly of driving using the fuel-saving tips that will be highlighted through this event.”

The Fuel Economy Tour, for standard production passenger cars and light commercials, will take place from November 12-16 and will involve a five-day drive on major roads from Johannesburg to Cape Town via Durban, East London, Port Elizabeth, and George, with a total combined distance of 2500km.

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