Volvo, Freightliner Get Top Grades at Bibendum

Class 8 vehicles entered Michelin Tire’s Challenge Bibendum environmental vehicle competition for the first time in September.

This year’s Challenge Bibendum, held in Sonoma, Calif., and San Francisco, drew participants from around the world.

Competitors vied to demonstrate progress toward environmentally positive operation. Prototype and production vehicles ranged from subcompact cars to buses and Class 8 trucks. They competed to demonstrate new propulsion systems; award categories included acceleration, braking, slalom, energy efficiency, noise and carbon dioxide emissions.

Volvo, competing only in the overnight idling competition, received an A for its VN780 with a fuel cell-powered auxiliary power unit. Freightliner received an A in energy efficiency, using a 2001 FL70 powered by standard diesel technology coupled with compressed natural gas capability.

Patrick Oliva, director of the Challenge Bibendum, said commercial vehicles are “an area in which new technologies are quickly emerging.” While compressed natural gas propulsion and fuel cell APU technology is not entirely new, its use in competition points to the industry’s increasing awareness of its responsibility to the environment.

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