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Rally Monte Carlo for alternative energy vehicles

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Monte Carlo: The rich and famous; the allure of grandeur; the charm of the Mediterranean.

ZENN: The suggestion of quiet, inclusion and enlightenment; The Buddhist Zen also aims to achieve all that.

Blend Monte Carlo and ZENN, and we arrive at the subject of alternative transportation: the quiet of electric propulsion, the addition of electric vehicles (EV) at the peak of automobile competition, and demonstrating and explaining the advantage of EV technology to everyone.

No sooner was the article on electrified motorsport published (2014 03 21), when this report on the fifth Monte-Carlo ZENN Rally appeared. (ZENN being short for Zero Emission, No Noise). The March-2014 driving competition was dubbed a peace of mind event.

The Monte Carlo Rally is one of the most prestigious auto-sport events in the world, going back to 1911. We avoid the word motor-sport, since only electric vehicles (and hybrids) have a motor. Real, genuine motor-vehicles now have their own events, because as we know, racing improves the breed.

The prestigious Monte Carlo is famous in Europe for making the original Mini the success it has become; it is infamous for the demanding winter-driving conditions it presents to participating competitors. The little Mini beat all comers outright three times in the mid-1960s.

Today’s Minis are larger, and come with an engine, OR with a motor, the Mini E.

In my early years in the automobile business my boss was one of the class-winners of the Monte Carlo; yours truly had the opportunity of working on his cars, preparing the engines. Engines of that time were unsophisticated and noisy, in direct contrast to the quiet, computerized electric motors of this year's ZENN entrants.

A great variety tried to show that EVs have arrived, here and at other venues, in terms of power, reliability and range; Only those able to drive a minimum of 250 km competed for success, and arrive they did — also at the finish line. The rally has various starting points, ending at the final events in the Principality of Monaco.

Different types and sizes of EVs participate in growing-in-numbers ‘E-events’, among them the siblings from Renault and Nissan . The French twin is called Zoe, the Japanese twin Leaf. Officially spelled FEAF, being the acronym for Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car). But since they are twins, the descriptor changed to a name; Leave it to the French to find an expressive name for a car - Zoe.

The European partner of the French-Japanese alliance entered three cars in this year’s Monte Carlo rally to make up the “Z.E. ZOE Team”.

The 'green Monte Carlo' runs in March on only partly snow covered roads for a good part of the various special stages, which make up the rally, dropping down from the mountains of the French and Swiss Alps to the harbour on the Mediterranean and the famous Formula1 street-circuit.

The rally for conventional cars with an engine starts in cities in Switzerland and France in January, driving on timed stages with penalty points for early arrival at secret checkpoints. Only special stages on closed roads are timed for speed. On the other hand, the motor-cars travel shorter distance, due to the limitation of today's energy storage devices (batteries).

'Racing improves the breed' is the old adage; competition improves motors and engines. Motor-sport in the new age of EVs should no longer apply to the cars of the ICE age; [vehicle-sport sounds strange] - someone needs to coin a new term — tire-sport? wheel-sport? Anyway, ‘our’ sport, in general, combines both types of powertrains, with motors and engines, pressing forward towards finding the best solution for alternative transportation.

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