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Heavy-duty category draws eleven participants to 2003 Bibendum

SONOMA, Ca.- - Eleven organizations showcased advanced technology heavy duty vehicles at the 2003 Challenge Bibendu...

SONOMA, Ca.- – Eleven organizations showcased advanced technology heavy duty vehicles at the 2003 Challenge Bibendum in Sonoma and San Francisco, Calif., Sept. 23-25.

Their production and concept vehicles highlighted the advancements made in technologies for commercial trucks and buses.

“The trucking industry has made significant progress towards more efficient, cleaner running vehicles for a variety of commercial applications,” said Marc Laferriere, Vice President of Marketing, Michelin Americas Truck Tires. “Challenge Bibendum is an excellent forum to highlight the advancements in the industry and the wide range of technical solutions available.”

Heavy-duty vehicles participating in the 2003 Challenge Bibendum included:

Volvo Truck: A VN day cab equipped with exhaust after treatment to reduce NOx and particulate emissions. This system uses selective catalytic reduction (SCR) with urea injection, a diesel particulate filter, and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. This VN operates in day-to-day service for a Volvo Trucks customer in a test fleet, to investigate potential technologies to meet upcoming federal emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel engines. The truck is owned by Talon Logistics, the distribution division of Giant Eagle, Inc. Pittsburgh, the largest privately-held supermarket chain in the U.S.

The VN780 Tech Truck, a technology demonstrator with numerous systems to reduce fuel consumption, improve vehicle efficiency and provide long-haul drivers with a more comfortable working environment. A primary goal of the Tech Truck is to showcase technologies to reduce the amount of gallons a year per heavy-duty truck, or approximately one gallon of fuel consumed per hour of idling. The technology proved its performance by garnering an A rating in the overnight idling test event.

Freightliner: Freightliner showcased two vehicles. The featured vehicle was the Freightliner Safety-Environment-Technology (SET) Demonstration Vehicle. The SET Vehicle includes numerous advanced systems designed to enhance safety, reduce environmental impact and increase productivity. It features a fuel cell auxiliary power unit, which proved itself in an overnight idling competition, earning a B rating. The systems are installed on a Freightliner Class 8 Century Class S/T tractor.

A second vehicle, also a Century Class S/T heavy-duty truck, was used to demonstrate a Roll Advisor & Control system designed to avoid instances of truck rollover; Lane Guidance, a lane departure warning system; the Eaton Vorad EVT-300 collision warning system and other advanced safety technologies.The feature proved especially impressive during a ride-along at the Infineon racetrack in Sonoma.

Harris Ranch Feeding Company: Three-axle Freightliner Century Class Day Cab with internal combustion engine that can be fueled by liquid natural gas (LNG) or diesel, providing a potentially interesting option as fuel costs rise rise and emissions standards get more restrictive.

Norcal / Cummins Westport: Featuring a Peterbilt 385 tractor with a hybrid propulsion system powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The truck was a working truck, and according to its driver, accelerated uphill than a regular diesel fueled engine.

PG&E: Freightliner FL70 tractor with John Deer CNG-fueled engine.

Eaton: Pick-up and delivery truck with hybrid electric engine. The diesel-electric parallel power system employs highly advanced electric motor drives, inverters, energy storage devices and advanced power management control, along with proven automated transmission and clutch technology from Eaton’s core truck components business.

EPA: A Ford F550 diesel/electric hybrid prototype. This parallel hydraulic hybrid vehicle delivers energy to the drive axle with the ICE engine and hydraulic motors. During braking, the vehicle’s kinetic energy is absorbed by the hydraulic system and stored in hydraulic accumulators. This energy is then used to launch the vehicle during its next acceleration. EPA and Eaton reps both said the hybrid technology is especially suited to applications such as dump and refuse trucks, where starting and stopping is frequent, thereby using the energy storage capacity of the hybrid technology to its fullest extent.

Isuzu Truck: Isuzu introduced an industry-first, single-fuel, direct-injection, diesel-cycle CNG truck prototype – the Elf CNG-DI. Rated at 14,076 lbs., the Elf CNG-DI is powered by a 4.5 liter in-line 4 engine equipped with a Westport injection system, turbocharger and intercooler, along with the SCR and urea injection systems most appropriate to the CNG fuel. Technical ingenuity employed in the vehicle allows it to achieve highly-efficient, clean operation and places the Elf CNG-DI in the ULEV category based on existing Japanese regulations.

GM Allison: Hybrid bus featuring Allison hybrid technology. The 40-foot, high-floor bus is powered by Allison’s EP System, an advanced parallel hybrid-electric powertrain. Able to reach speeds of 65 miles per hour, the bus uses diesel fuel and electricity to deliver much lower hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions than conventional buses. The EP System lowers particulate emissions (tiny pieces of soot and dust) by 90 percent and NOX (nitrogen oxide) emissions by 50 percent. The System also delivers 60 percent greater fuel economy than a conventional diesel system in a transit bus application. The bus has a maximum capacity of 42 passengers.

Napa Valley School District: Blue Bird transit school bus with electric engine powered by electricity through an on-board battery.

Georgetown University: RTS Nova bus with exotic fuel and propulsion systems. The vehicle is powered by hythane, a mixture of hydrogen and methane.

“This wide range of heavy duty vehicles, energy sources and technologies is the perfect addition to the 2003 Challenge Bibendum,” said Ron Musgnug, Michelin’s project manager for the 2003 event. “An impressive group of vehicles has been assembled that proves the remarkable progress being made in this important transportation sector.”

CHALLENGE BIBENDUM, considered one of the premier global events for advanced technology vehicles, was established by the Michelin Group as an objective way to bring together and test the best available technologies for environmentally positive vehicles. The annual event features vehicles from major manufacturers on three continents and brings together all partners in the automotive world: vehicle manufacturers, designers, energy suppliers, technical leaders, policy makers, universities and government organizations. Complete information is available at

Michelin manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, maps and atlases covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America ( employs 24,640 and operates 22 plants in 18 locations.

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