Luxury vehicles and racing cars are regularly flown by freighter around the world. But a Smart car is a less frequent sight. Lufthansa Cargo sent the famous small car on a global adventure on behalf of the company igus
Lufthansa Cargo is used to flying exclusive cars such as Rolls-Royces and Bentleys and even off-road motorsport vehicles for the Dakar Rally all around the world. The company transported an impressive 1,400 vehicles in its freighters last year. But a small car such as the Smart is a much more unusual sight for Lufthansa Cargo employees, especially when it starts its journey on a passenger jet, under the feet of hundreds of passengers.
The Smart car is being sent on a round-the-world trip entitled “iglidur on tour” by igus, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of energy chain systems and polymer plain bearings, in order to celebrate 30 years of the company’s iglidur materials.
The week-long conversion of the small car began back in November together with Cologne University of Applied Sciences. The idea was to replace everything with plastics where this was technically possible and TÜV-compliant. For example, the plastic plain bearings were fitted in, amongst other parts, the brake pedal, windscreen wipers and hand brake. These bearings don’t need any external lubrication, are maintenance-free and corrosion-resistant and are seven times lighter than metallic versions.
The bright orange Smart car started out on its big trip on 21 January, heading from Cologne to Frankfurt Airport. The Lufthansa Boeing 747-8 carrying the small car in its belly took off on time for New Delhi at 1:30 p.m. The bright orange Smart car will initially be exhibited at the “Auto Expo” in India.
The idea behind the nine-month trip is for the Smart car to demonstrate what innovative plastic technology can achieve on the asphalt, gravel and mud roads of four continents. The second stop after India will be China, where the Smart car will tour the land. Then will follow countries such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, before the car is transported to America. Following a coast-to-coast US trip from the west to the east over a number of weeks, the car will land back in Europe. There it will visit various customers, trade fairs and igus branches.