Sustainability on the road


March, 2018

In the Moroccan desert, in a 4-wheel drive Fiat Panda to support biodiversity projects: welcome to the 2018 Panda Raid.

At the beginning of March 2018, our CEO, Pierluigi Nobili, took part in the tenth edition of the Panda Raid, the long-distance amateur endurance rally, to appropriately celebrate the most iconic 4-wheel car of the 1980s. The Fiat baby and 350 other crews from all over Europe started in Madrid and headed for Marrakesh, Morocco, rising to the challenge of an endless series of desert plains, sand dunes and fords.

The over 3,000 km journey is divided into 7 legs, which have to be completed unassisted. In this competition it is not important to set the best time or reach high speeds - the real aim is to make it to the finish line. Each leg has a starting line and a finish line and everything in between is a totally unknown quantity. To fully experience the Raid all crews are asked to organise their own route. The rules strongly stress the romantic spirit of the event - all modern devices are banned. In an increasingly technologically advanced world participants can only count on a compass, a road book and a map - mobile phones, satnavs and all other electronic devices are forbidden.

The racing element is always combined with humanitarian activities within Morocco. Part of this year’s registration fees went to fund projects dedicated to the ecological balance in the Argan region of southern Morocco. Some of the projects were focused on supporting beekeeping, given the essential contribution of bees to biodiversity and ecological balance. The Mesguina forest, near Agadir, has great potential for beekeeping, with mixed-height forests (rich in thyme and other plants) and maritime argan trees and euphorbia. In the Ait Baha Oubaha and Azrarag regions there are about 150 beekeepers and over 3,000 beehives, but a prolonged drought is putting them all at risk. In the Drarga municipality (where beekeeping supports 150 families) the Panda Raid allocated part of the profits women workers involved in Argan oil production.

Panda Raid Italia was created by Roberto Bianchin (from the Veneto region, north-east Italy) who, together with Eros De Conto, organised the first tour ten years ago (2008) to donate school materials and consumer staple goods to children in southern Morocco. If reading this suddenly fills you with a desire for adventure (and humanitarian feelings, of course), you’ll be pleased to know that anyone can take part in the next edition - all you need is a 4-wheel drive Panda, to which you must make a few adjustments to overcome the obstacles on your journey: slight changes to the engine and suspension, the addition of a second petrol pump, a bigger radiator, the addition of a snorkel and, in the case of more recent Pandas, replacement of the injection system by carburettors. For the record: after more than 3,000 km our Panda was ranked 130th... But after all it’s not winning that counts but taking part, isn’t that right?