Report from the
2003 Michelin Challenge Bibendum
By Bruce Meland, ET's publisher and editor-in-chief

The 2004 Prius was the most popular ride and drive vehicle at the 2003 Michelin Challenge at the Sonoma Lodge and the Sears Point Raceway, now called the Infineon Raceway.

A boat load of 2004 Toyota Priuses came in to the West Coast recently for the October 2003 sales launch in the US. Four 2004 Priuses were displayed and available for driving by the 1000 plus media representatives from all over the world at the 2003 Michelin Challenge.

Over a thousand media from all over the world attended a 3 day exposure to over a hundred cleaner vehicles of the future: Electric, Hybrid and H2 vehicles.

Get this it was an all expense paid EVent where Michelin, Bosh, Chevron Texaco, and auto companies shelled out a couple of million to pay everyone's way, air fair and all meals and lodging... 20 from China, 5 from Romania.

The all new 2004 Prius, the next generation hybrid vehicle is larger (110 cubic feet) 2003 Prius (100 cubic feet). It is also has a midsize EPA Class Rating and gets better gas mileage than any mid-sized sedan. EPA fuel mileage estimates (60 city/51 highway/55 combined.)

The 2004 Prius as also more powerful engine and electric motor with combined horsepower of 145 hp. The 2003 had a combined 114 hp.

Alan Alda of M.A.S.H. fame and head of the Scientific American Frontiers documentary film team, got the photo opportunity of a lifetime at Michelin Challenge test track.

Alan and his team got a chance to drive the Hy-Wire, GM's Journey to Reinvent the Automobile. The GM Hy-wire, the world's first drivable fuel cell and by-wire concept vehicle is designed from the ground up.

The Hy-wire's skateboard chassis contains all of the vehicles propulsion, transmission, steering and braking components. This skateboard concept gives much added room for extra seating and flexibility for "snap-on" body parts that can be customized to meet various body styles.

The 2004 Prius is selling for $19,999 with a lot of extras available for purchase such as a Global Positioning Unit and a all 4 wheel anti-skid system. The 2005 Michelin Challenge Design will focus on designing for the specific needs of the emerging Chinese market. Click "here" to view selected works from designers who have met the 2004 challenge to create vehicles that can successfully answer the accelerating demands for the emerging Chinese automotive market.

Check out the 2003 Challenge Photo Gallery. Stay tuned to this page for more reporting on the Michelin Challenge.