Prince Albert II of Monte Carlo instigated the Monte Carlo Rally for Alternative Energy Vehicles that was first organized in 2007.  There you could see a Ford Fiesta race a Tesla Roadster, with wildly different results.  They don’t complete in the same class.

The interest in alternative fuels is gaining more momentum with even Americans expressing interest in various polling results. That leads to enthusiasm, a greatly appreciated activity from the basic energy and fuel buyer to commercial interests, politicos and special interests.

The rally rules offer competition to electric vehicles, hybrids, alternative fuel and fossil fuel vehicles that emit less than 120 grams of CO2 per kilometer (0.621 miles).

The Tesla, a trio of Ford diesels and a Toyota Prius cleaned up at the third running of the annual rally.  The ‘race’ is a rally type, more of a time and distance thing than the head to head race to the end with nearly identical vehicles as in NASCAR or the INDY car programs.  Its much more relaxed, runs over a longer period of time and is much more instructive as what works now and what might be coming.

What works now is the Tesla.  The Tesla took first in the electric vehicle category by default because the RUF electric Porsche 911 pulled out and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV didn’t have sufficient range to compete. The Tesla shattered its maximum range rating of 244 miles after completing the entire 240.8-mile rally with the dashboard display showing on board 38 miles of power to spare.

With no particular surprise the Toyota Prius dominated the hybrid category.  One wonders how and why the Honda Insight model wasn’t better represented with its single entry pulling a third place finish.

Ford's 2009 Fiesta Model. Click for a larger image.

Ford's 2009 Fiesta Model. Click for a larger image.

What really simulated a bunch of press, media and web attention was the Ford effort.  In the fossil fuel power category Ford did an impressive job, taking first, second and fourth with its Fiesta Econetic diesels.  These smallish cars are not available in the U.S., but the technology under the Ford management might be locked and loaded should oil and gasoline process take off again.  I find myself not surprised that Ford hasn’t taken any bailout money from Congress.  The new guy with experience from Boeing is Alan Roger Mulally, who has successfully managed to get this far without a bailout and may well save the company and the workers jobs.

Parsing the results (in French of course) leads one to realize that even some heavy cars such a Lexus can compete in rally circumstances.

Yet the overall results have Ford with Ford owned Volvo holding 5 of the top 10 finishes.  The diesels took three with two models of Volvos, a V70 and a C30 for the five.  Toyota, Honda, Seat, Fiat and Citroen each took one place for the top ten.

Just to add some consternation to the wonder that American experience isn’t in the one race competition, the race kicks off the ‘Alternative Energies Cup,’ a series of 18 races the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile holds in Europe, Japan and Canada.

Yet these events offer competitors and manufacturers the chance to test in real conditions and on the road the latest innovations they have and hope to use to win or to bring to the vehicle market.  It may not mean much to an American, but where gas is $8 a gallon these kinds of things gather lots of attention.  It will be worth knowing when gasoline prices in America take off again.

The rally’s starting points were in Lugano, Switzerland and Clermont-Ferrand, France and the course included several traditional Monte Carlo rally roads. The rally length is 1,000 kilometers or 621 miles, but not all cars competed in every stage. In an eco-friendly twist, the rally includes four “regularity runs” in which teams must meet specific average speeds while maintaining superb fuel economy. Those conditions lead to driver skills such as Americans think of as hypermiling for the competitive edge.

One last tweak for Americans to consider.  The Ford diesel Fiesta introduced in August last year is 2009’s best selling car in Europe.

Alternative fuels look like they’re here to stay.

Pictures – Here


6 Comments so far

  1. Alex Plewniak on June 17, 2009 3:42 PM

    Dear Sir / Ma’am,

    Thank you for writing about alternative fuels technology in racing. We are NORRA (National Off Road Racing Association) founded in 1967, and originators of the Mexican 1000, and Baja 500, NORRA is BACK! We are holding a special stage format rally this September that features not only the historic vintage vehicles first run in our events, but we are forging the future with our embrace of Alternative Fuel Technologies. We are all about celebrating the hotrodding roots of Off Road and offering something new for generations to come. If you would like to learn more about NORRA and the revival of the Mexican 1000 rally please visit us on the web…, or feel free to contact me. Thank you.

    Alex Plewniak
    Operations / Logistics Director

  2. Erin Turner on August 11, 2010 12:00 AM

    oh how i wish that we are all using Alternative sources of energy instead of oil ~

  3. Connor Bell on September 30, 2010 12:33 AM

    we should ban all sorts of fossil fuels and invest more on alternative energy`-`

  4. Lan Tester  on October 17, 2010 11:02 AM

    alternative energy is the best option that we can choose if we really want clean sources of power.”.

  5. Bedding Collections · on November 7, 2010 10:48 AM

    there is no better way of harnessing nature’s energy other than the use of alternative energy sources *

  6. Laura Lough on May 26, 2011 5:34 PM

    Awesome post. I so good to see someone taking the time to share this information

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