The 12th Royal Tunbridge Wells Sedan Chair Race, held on Bank Holiday Monday (26 August), was full of incident and intrigue – not least because a car company was sponsoring this event for the first time. The race was sponsored by Kia Motors, who have their UK headquarters in the town, as part of their unique and innovative ‘Think Before You Drive’ campaign. Kia also entered a team in the race.
The Kia Sedan Chair, which contains one passenger and is carried by four people, is a single-seated ‘car’. It is motor-free and therefore emission-free, and its compact dimensions and ‘air-suspension’ means it is highly manoeuvrable.
The Kia Sedan Chair was custom built for the event by Marketing Director Guy Jones, who was also Kia team leader.
Jones said of the race: "Although there are no current plans to put the Sedan Chair into production, we have proved that the Kia concept is durable, if not in this case fast enough moving. Following two minor incidents, the passenger escaped injury but crucial time was lost. It’s a shame we didn’t win!"
The Tunbridge Wells Sedan Chair Race attracted 10 teams, including a Sub Aqua troupe, a fire brigade team, a group of doctors, and a team of vicars. The final victors were The Sussex Arms pub team who pipped the firemen to the finish line. The winning team members each received a Kia hybrid mountain bike.
Kia was the first car manufacturer in the UK with a responsible motoring policy, called ‘Think Before You Drive’. The groundbreaking campaign marks the first time that a motor company has acknowledged the need to change attitudes to the use of the car, to encourage individual responsibility for driving patterns, and to promote integrated transport solutions that reduce dependence on motoring. For that reason Kia gives a Kia bike to every owner of the Sedona people-carrier. Also as part of the campaign, Kia has launched over 160 Walking Buses in schools across the UK.
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