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Alternative Fuel Vehicles Offer One Solution to Beating High Gas Prices

High gas prices may drive some consumers to consider alternative fuel...

High gas prices may drive some consumers to consider alternative fuel or advanced technology vehicles according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. The question is which vehicle might best meet the needs of each consumer.

As part of its commitment to cleaner air and advanced automotive technology, the Auto Club today demonstrated five alternative fuel and advance technology vehicles, the majority of which are now available to California consumers. Vehicles included the Nissan Altra EV (electric) and Nissan Sentra CA (the only gasoline-fueled car to meet the Partial Zero Emission Standard); Honda Insight hybrid (gasoline powered with an electric booster motor); Toyota Prius hybrid (gasoline powered with an electric booster motor) and the Ford Crown Victoria CNG (compressed natural gas).

"Consumers will have an increasing number of vehicle choices in the future," said Steve Mazor, the Auto Club's principal automotive engineer. "It's a good time for drivers to learn about the options already available so they can make informed vehicle choices."

In addition to today's demonstration, the Auto Club will participate in testing 60 low-emission vehicles during the international Michelin Challenge Bibendum, a real-world showcase of the world's latest advanced technology scheduled for the fall.

Bibendum (the Michelin Man's real name) turned 100 years old in 1998. As part of his birthday celebration, Michelin created an automotive event that captures Bibendum's spirit of creativity, innovation and competition. This year's event will be the third in the series and the first to be held outside of Bibendum's native France.

"We know vehicle manufacturers worldwide are moving aggressively into the research and development of new technologies that will reduce pollution and energy consumption," said Group Michelin CEO, Edouard Michelin. "We believe that the time is right for the Michelin Challenge Bibendum to come to North America."

The Auto Club was selected by Michelin North America Inc. to technically review the "green" cars entered in the first North American version of the Bibendum. Auto Club engineers will measure vehicles in terms of acceleration, braking, handling, noise and fuel economy. Vehicles tested will be powered by solar, electric, natural gas or other alternate fuels, or use a hybrid gasoline engine. Tests will be conducted at the California Speedway on Saturday, October 27.

Following the Auto Club technical tests, the caravan of high-tech, low-emission vehicles will be driven from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to demonstrate how well they perform on American highways that include daunting mountain grades and desert heat.

"We're delighted that the Auto Club has accepted Michelin's request to conduct the technical tests for the Challenge Bibendum," said Nancy Banks, Director of Public Relations for Michelin North America. "This event was created to demonstrate the real-world advances made by alternate fuel vehicles and their increasing viability for use in the marketplace. The continuing development of such technologies and sustainability of our resources is important to everyone's future."

"It's an honor to be selected as the technical judge in such an internationally acclaimed event," said Mazor. "This is a rare opportunity to compare dozens of vehicles with different fuel sources against standard criteria. We believe our tests can provide manufacturers with data that will help advance product development and give consumers understandable results showing which alternate-fuel vehicles might be useful to them."

The leader in customer satisfaction with more J.D. Power and Associates awards than all other tire manufacturers combined, Michelin manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, maps and atlases covering Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. With headquarters in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America ( employs 26,500 and operates 23 plants in 19 locations.