Early on Saturday morning (3 November 2011) more than 60 cars lined up on Brighton seafront to take part in the second ever Future Car Challenge.
The event sees low emission cars take on the 60 mile route from Brighton seafront to Pall Mall, London, via Crawley.
The historic route was first used 115 years ago when drivers were celebrating the increased speed limit from 4 mph to 14 mph.
After years of speeding up today’s Future Car drivers are make a concerted effort to slow down, watching their speed and driving as efficiently as possible.
Although the cars have to arrive at the destination in no more than three and a half hours to complete the challenge, the main objective is to do it using the least energy possible.
Some celebrities involved in the contest included former British Grand Prix Champion Damon Hill OBE, Robert Llewelyn famed for his role as Kryten in Red Dwarf and DJ Mark Goodier.
Former Top Gear presenter Quentin Wilson, former F1 designer Gordon Murray and television presenter Kevin McCloud (Grand Designs) were also in the starting line up.
Robert Llewelyn said that these energy efficient vehicles are not only the future but that they are absolutely essential if we are to continue driving like we do.
Whilst some car manufacturers were taking the opportunity to show off their alternatively fuelled prototypes organises were keen to inform us that the majority of the cars were available to purchase from show rooms around the country.
The increased availability, and popularity, of these vehicles shows a real advance in energy efficient technology and the changing attitude of road users.
Amongst the electric, hybrid and low-emission cars were a vintage Jaguar which had been converted to electric and a rally car.
Many of the participants were using their own vehicles to undertake the challenge. Chris Eubank, one of the women drivers at the event, said: “I’m driving my electric smart car today and I love it, I’m really looking forward to the drive today”.
Mark Goodier, who was driving a Nissan Leaf, was keen to share his love of the car saying that he had driven an electric car for 10 years. He told us that both he and his wife had a ‘Leaf’ and had never looked back.
Mayor Anne Meadows was on hand to wave the drivers off and said that the event was not only great for Brighton but good for the future of driving as well as the environment.
The second part of the two day event was the Veteran Car Rally coming back the other way from London to Brighton.
This was the perfect way to showcase the pioneering technology and made for another interesting weekend in the city.
Video made with Andy Collins.
Orginally published on Brighton and Hove Free Press.