Sustainable Mobility Event Welcomes Heavy-Duty Trucks for First Time

by Ingrid Phaneuf

SONOMA, Calif. – Advanced technology heavy-duty vehicles made their first appearance this year at Michelin’s annual Bibendum Challenge.

The Bibendum is a competition/exhibition organized annually by Michelin to promote and showcase the work of manufacturers towards sustainable mobility.

The event, held Sept. 23 through 25, began at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. and finished with a gala dinner and awards ceremony in San Francisco, Calif.

The advanced technology showcased in heavy-duty vehicles at the event highlighted the advancements made in technologies that may well be in the industry’s future.

“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 and manufacturers participating in the 2003 Bibendum Challenge included:

Volvo Truck: The truck maker showcased 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.

A VN day cab shown by a Volvo customer was equipped with exhaust aftertreatment 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. The VN operates in day-to-day service for a Volvo customer in a test fleet, to investigate potential technologies to meet upcoming U.S. federal emissions standards for heavy-duty diesel engines. It’s owned by Talon Logistics, the distribution division of Giant Eagle, Inc. Pittsburgh, the largest privately-held supermarket chain in the U.S.

Freightliner: Four Freightliner vehicles were on display. 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.

This feature proved especially impressive during a ride-along at the Infineon racetrack in Sonoma.

Harris Ranch Feeding Company: The company showcased a 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.

PG&E: The company showcased a Freightliner FL70 tractor with John Deere CNG-fueled engine

Norcal / Cummins Westport: On display was 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 better than a regular diesel fueled engine.

Eaton: A pick-up and delivery truck with a hybrid electric engine was Eaton’s contribution to Bibendum. The diesel-electric parallel power system employs 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.

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 efficient, clean operation and places the Elf CNG-DI in the Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) category based on existing Japanese regulations.

The medium-duty truck won two gold medals in the fuel efficiency and emissions categories and one silver medal in the vehicle noise category.

“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.”

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