From Lisbon to Tokyo with CNG
The two longest roads of the world, the R297 Amur in Russia and the Pan-American Highway, also known as Panamericana, were to be travelled with a natural gas car for the first time in 2009 and 2010 – that was the goal of world record and long-distance driver Rainer Zietlow. And so, on October 5, Rainer Zietlow, photographer Franz Januczewicz, cameraman Benny Wagener and the two drivers Roman Huber and Leopold Freund set off on the first of two journeys of around 15,000 kilometers.
From Lisbon, the journey took them via Moscow and Seoul to Tokyo. Beside a natural gas driven Caddy Maxi EcoFuel, which was able to reach 3000 kilometers due to additional tanks, a Volkswagen T5 Multivan was used. On the longest stretch between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean, the team had to cope with extreme temperature differences and difficult road conditions.
The network of natural gas filling stations in Russia was okay until the team reached lake Baikal. From that point, they had to call a mobile filling station to reach Vladivostok. On the ferry to Tokyo, the team was alone with the ship's crew, as this ferry is only used to get used Asian vehicles to Russia. In Japan, there were only three natural gas filling stations at that time, which is why everyone was excited to see a CNG car from Germany.
Finally, Rainer Zietlow donated 10 cents for every kilometer drive to a SOS Children’s Village in Moscow, which he also visited to hand over the donation.