From Turkey to Germany – our colleague Wolfgang Kauer took part in this year’s Blue Corridor Rally in an Audi A5 g-tron and drove 3,655 km with CNG in his tank. Now he shares his impressions and adventures with us in the blog.
The Blue Corridor Rally is an event for gas-powered vehicles organized once a year by Gazprom Export and Uniper. Trucks, buses and passenger cars started the rally on August 29 in Istanbul with their environmentally friendly drive taking them through Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Italy, Belgium, Austria and Germany. A demonstration of the environmental, economic and technological superiority of gas over traditional fuels.
Wolfgang Kauer has been at OMV since February 2018. Before this, he was a freelancer in the field of security and personal protection – an exciting and eventful job that also involved a considerable amount of travel. This meant that, rather than unknown territory, taking part in the Blue Corridor Rally was a matter of course for him. Wolfgang’s first impression of the OMV Audi A5 g-tron, which has already been driving on gas for two years:
Fantastic, no difference to conventional vehicles. Exceptional electronic controls, filling up was no problem at all. It is extremely cost-efficient and a great car to drive.
Wolfgang Kauer, Specialist Fleet Management at OMV
A journey like this calls for good preparation. “An array of documents for all of the border crossings for the car as well as for the driver; possible highway toll fees for every country, petty cash, provisions and water. As the Audi has a bivalent motor (with CNG and gasoline), a spare fuel canister is also recommended for emergencies. Of course, I researched the CNG filling station network in advance”, says Wolfgang.
Who goes on a journey has a story to tell…
“Arriving in the city that never sleeps, my OMV colleagues in Istanbul has prepared a really warm reception. They were really impressed – not so much by me [Wolfgang laughs], more by the car. In Turkey itself there are only ten CNG filling stations. So, it’s no surprise that you hardly see any of these cars. The Audi looks incredibly chic and our colleagues were visibly impressed by the OMV design and Viennese plates”, grins Wolfgang.
Istanbul is a thriving city – and that holds true for their traffic too. And this was the exact spot where the OMV Audi Pilot started off on the 2019 Blue Corridor Rally together with around 15 other CNG-powered vehicles – including a school bus and a massively long bendy bus. “The traffic in Istanbul is unbelievable. The distance to the city’s only CNG filling station should have taken around three minutes, but I needed 45 minutes on the absolutely jam-packed roads. That said, the city on the Bosporus is completely worth the journey: a historic mecca, a wonderful melting pot of Orient and Occident – there is a huge amount to see”, gushes Wolfgang.
On precisely the final weekend of the summer holidays, the convoy headed off from Istanbul towards Bulgaria. This meant long waits: a single 4.4 km stretch took Wolfgang eleven hours of driving, or rather standing still. Without any kind of infrastructure – nowhere to shop or use the bathroom – Wolfgang spent the time in interesting discussions with his fellow traffic-jam sufferers.
In Bulgaria, Wolfgang enjoyed an outstanding CNG network – 114 filling stations – and a break at an OMV filling station. “It doesn’t matter in which country, whether it’s in a tiny village, the cleanliness and friendly staff made a real impression on me. I was only able to experience filling up with CNG myself in Austria; everywhere else the attendants handled it for me”, says Wolfgang.
The remainder of the journey to Vienna went off without a hitch. After a week in the CNG car and 3,655 kilometers clocked up, the Blue Corridor Rally contestant gave his verdict: “Some countries like Austria, Germany, Bulgaria and Italy have an outstanding network. In others like Turkey there is still room for improvement to say the least. Whether it’s a CNG dispenser out in the sticks, in the middle of nowhere, or at a state-of-the-art OMV filling station, filling up was always no problem at all. I met a lot of great people on the trip and had a lot of positive experiences. Participating in the rally really paid off”.
Wolfgang Kauer’s private car is a Skoda Octavia RS and following this trip he can well imagine switching to a CNG vehicle.
Fact box CNG:
A gas-powered car has a similar range to one with a diesel engine. The costs are around the same and it’s just as quick to fill up – at half the price. You can read more on this topic here.