VW announces TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge

Remember the time you and your friends piled into a VW and drove across the country together? Well, this is sort of like that, only with 14 countries, dense jungles, arid deserts and frigid mountain passes, all being traversed in world record time.

Renowned adventurer, off-road driver and all-around uber-driver Rainer Zietlow and his team are commemorating the 75th anniversary of the legendary Pan-American Highway with the ultimate road trip: the TDI-Panamericana Endurance Challenge, a two-week race from Argentina to Alaska on the world’s longest road, covering 14 countries and nearly 16,000 miles in a 2011 Volkswagen Touareg TDI® Clean Diesel SUV. The drive kicks off June 29 at the southern tip of South America in Ushuaia, Argentina, with the goal of driving the entire length of the Pan-American Highway in 14 days and finishing in Deadhorse, Alaska.

Rainer couldn’t have picked a better vehicle for the journey: not only is the Touareg rugged and durable, but as a clean diesel SUV, it consumes 30 percent less fuel and produces up to 25 percent lower CO2 emissions than comparable gasoline-powered vehicles. The Touareg’s TDI® clean diesel technology is a key component of Think Blue, the philosophy behind Volkswagen’s holistic approach to achieving sustainable mobility through fuel-efficient, high-performing vehicles and advanced technologies.

But this is more than just a 16,000-mile joyride: as with all of his previous challenges, Zietlow will donate 10 Euro cents for each kilometer driven during this trip to two villages in Latin America managed by Plan International, a charity organization that works in 48 developing countries to promote children’s rights and lift millions of children out of poverty.

You can follow the trip online at www.tdi-panamericana.com, where you’ll find a map and live streaming video to show the Touareg’s real-time progress on the route, as well as photos, video highlights and blog posts from documenting the journey from start to finish.

Tell us: what is your favorite road trip memory?