If you run a 'shrink' on the disks before exporting them you will only need as much space as is actually used on the disk, rather than the entire VMDK file which includes unused space.
Procedure to carry out the same would be : To shrink a disk open up VMware Tools in the VM, click the shrink tab, and select the disks to shrink. Try and do this during a quiet time as it does load the VMs quite a bit. Once it's completed you can export the disks to an SMB/NFS/EXT3 volume using the 2GB split option. If you wanted to tidy up the files you could combine this with compression such as RAR, like you say, compacting all of the split vmdk files into a single archive.
Also you can refer : http://www.emc.com/collateral/hardware/white-papers/h8198-vnx-deduplication-compression-wp.pdf to see the indetails for a .vmdk compresion.