The California Speedway recently hosted a different kind of motor sport championship, at the first North American running of the Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2001 efficiency and range trials.FONTANA, California, US, 2001-11-21 [SolarAccess.com] Seventeen prototype vehicles and 28 production models powered by natural gas, alcohol, fuel cells and biofuel, were tested for fuel efficiency and range. Tradition motor sports try to influence consumer choices by winning races but, “in this competition, consumers are the ultimate winners because they will reap the benefits of vehicles that go farther on less fuel or energy,” explains Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin’s director of Motor Sports. Extending fuel efficiency and range of alternative fuel vehicles is a consumer demand and a crucial element in making green fuels and technologies more marketable, he adds. Fuel efficiency in the Bibendum is based on the amount of energy consumed over a predefined distance of 160 kilometers. Standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy and CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) were used to evaluate the performance of each competitor. Because it is difficult to compare various energy sources, the threshold values for range were imposed on all vehicles, regardless of size or category. Among the 17 prototype vehicles, a California Fuel Cell partnership 2001 Hyundai Santa Fe received gold medals for low emissions and low noise, and was one of only two prototype cars to receive a silver for fuel efficiency. A prototype Ford Focus Estate diesel cycle natural gas powered vehicle was equal in fuel efficiency. A number of the 28 production vehicles powered by alternative energy received gold or silver medals for fuel efficiency: Nissan Hypermini (electric); 1999 GM Gen2 EV1 (electric); 1997 GM EV1 (electric); 2002 Honda Insight (hybrid electric); Honda Insight (hybrid electric); Toyota Prius (hybrid electric); and 2000 Volkswagen Jetta (biofuel). A Nissan Altra EV (electric) and a 2001 Ford Ranger EV (electric) received three gold medals each, and a 2002 Honda CRV powered by gasoline received four gold medals and three silver for reduced emissions, acceleration, handling, efficiency and range.