Saab Competes at 2007 Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Shanghai

Saab 9-3 competes at 2007 Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Shanghai

Swade reported on this earlier, but I thought I’d add some more details.

Saab has been reluctant to compete in motor sport due to the excessive cost required to do so. They do have a small motor sport department, but I believe most resources are dedicated to supporting racing teams such as Per Eklund’s and the JL Racing team in Canada.

Recently Saab competed in a road rally “race” and did quite well. The race was an event held at the 2007 Michelin Challenge Bibendum held this year in Shanghai, China. The lone Saab entry, a 2007 9-3 BioPower 60th Anniversary Edition Sport Combi, placed ninth out a field of 16 “alternative fuel” or “environmentally-friendlier” vehicles in the “Passenger Car Inter-City” class.

The course was a 170 kilometer (105.6 miles) road course with sections on highways, local roads, and streets in built-up areas.

The Saab was the only E85-fueled car in the race, though there were a couple of E10 competitors. Of the eight cars which beat the Saab three were diesels (including the overall winner, a Mercedes-Benz E300 BLUETEC), two were hydrogen-powered, one was run on compressed natural gas, and two were gasoline-powered (I’m guessing they must have been hybrids to be allowed to compete).

In addition to the race there were tests given each competitor and awards distributed for the best results:

The tests are divided into two categories, performance and environmental. Performance tests include acceleration, maneuverability and the rally while the environmental tests cover local pollution, noise, fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.

• Acceleration allows comparisons to be made in power and performance and is a crucial factor for road safety.
• The maneuverability test measures the handling ability of the vehicles. Again each vehicle category has its own specially designed course.
• Noise pollution is the bane of urban living and noise from road traffic is one of the more important sources. Noise is measured in decibels (dB), which is an algorithmic scale. As a general indication relative quietness is below 40 dB and vehicles can be anything from 50 dB (e-bikes) to 80 dB (trucks) at a distance of 10 meters. The test concerns pass-by noise and this will be measured during the acceleration test.
• The fuel efficiency evaluations for each vehicle will be based on the total distance traveled during the rally, the acceleration/noise and maneuverability tests as well as the connecting roads and the total amount of energy used to do this.
• Local pollution covers the emissions produced by a vehicle as it operates. These have become an important health and environmental issue as they impact the quality of the air we breathe. All entrants must submit, prior to the event, certified emissions pollution data following tests conducted by a laboratory. Different standards exist for China, the EU, Japan and the United States (see Rules & Procedures) and the scoring will take into account the specific standards applicable in the market for which the vehicle was intended.
• Carbon dioxide (CO2) is clearly identified as a gas associated with global warming. The evaluation and reporting of well-to-tire CO2 emissions gives a view of the overall environmental impact (footprint) of any one technology by taking into account the GHG pollution emitted throughout that particular energy’s entire life cycle from production through refinement, transport and distribution to the in-use phase.
• The tank-to-tire CO2 emissions or tailpipe emissions will be calculated using the fuel efficiency results obtained during the rally and the CO2 emissions coefficient for the fuel (g/kWh). By adding the latter to well-to-tank emissions, calculated from reference scenarios, then we arrive at an overall well-to-tire CO2 emissions figure. This figure will include a best and worst scenario for the energy production phase.

Awards and trophies
In the true spirit of Challenge Bibendum, it is expected that all entrants participate in all aspects of the competition. Performance in the environmental tests will be rated A, B or C. All participants that complete and provide the required data for the environmental tests will receive a participation trophy.

Awards will be given for all vehicles achieving a performance level of A in the following environmental tests and evaluations: Local pollution; Noise; Fuel efficiency (energy consumption) and CO2 emissions.
For the performance tests (Acceleration, Maneuverability and Rally), awards will be given to the best three vehicles in each category.

In the technical tests Saab’s entry scored a “C” in noise pollution (well, they were competing with an internal combustion engine against competition running silent fuel cells, so it figures) but scored straight-As in Local Pollutants, Fuel Efficiency (!), and CO2 Emissions Tank to Tyre.

Saab left Shanghai with two awards, one for fuel efficiency and one for low emissions. I can only guess that that the Saab was in a class of its own (E85 ICE) in regards to these awards as if they were competing against the diesels, natural gas, and hydrogen-powered cars they likely wouldn’t have bested them in these categories.

At the 2006 Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Paris Saab competed with a 9-5 BioPower and won awards for best acceleration and braking.

Congratulations to Saab for these awards and taking a lead in promoting environmentally-friendlier cars worldwide in these events.

You may also like


  1. I’m not sure that Saab couldn’t have bested the others in fuel efficiency. How do you compare the efficiency of an E85 car to a hydrogen car? The only meaningful way I can think of is measuring how much of the available energy is delivered to the wheels. MPG makes no sense, even comparing gasoline or diesel to ethanol. I suppose electric powered cars would have a big advantage though, unless you figure in manufacturing and supply losses. Great to see Saab did well.
    OT: Great review of ragtop here.

  2. Good point, saabyurk. I don’t know if they compared all the cars to each-other or if they separated each by class.

    However, because they compared CO₂ emissions from “tank to tyre” and Saab won for low emissions as well, I’m guessing they separated them into classes by like fuel. There’s no way an E85 ICE-powered car would beat a hydrogen fuel cell on emissions from tank to tire. Maybe from well to wheel, but not tank to tire.

    Hydrogen fuel cells are actually EV, so they’d have an advantage in both efficiency and emissions from tank to tire.

    I’m thinking the Challenge Bibendum was set-up so just about everyone who participated went home with some sort of award to brag-about (for PR purposes) to make it worth the manufacturers’ while to have participated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *