Michelin tires and sponsorship behind solar cars.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Nov. 22, 2009
Tokai University’s “Tokai Challenger” crossing the finish line on Day 4.
Organized for the first time back in 1987, the World Solar Challenge is a 1,860 miles race across Australia that is open to prototype vehicles powered by solar energy. Michelin, a key defender of green racing, secured the top two places in this year's event which took place over the week of October 24-31.
The 1,873-mile competition crossed the bush and desert that stretches between Darwin and Adelaide and driven exclusively by solar-powered experimental vehicles. These vehicles had to comply with local traffic regulations since the roads were open to other users.
The event is seen as a major challenge by the world's leading universities and schools, and this year's list of starters included entries from establishments such as the M.I.T. (USA) and Tokai University (Japan). In an age when renewable energies are at the heart of the global economic battle, the technological stakes involved are effectively very important.
Michelin equipped eight of the 32 prototypes that lined up for this year's race.
"Tires play a predominant role on events like the World Solar Challenge," says Philippe Ricoux, the man in charge of Michelin's communications department regarding technical matters. "Whereas the tires of an everyday car account for 20 percent of a vehicle's fuel consumption, the tires of the sophisticated machines of the sort seen in Australia – which have a drag coefficient and inertia close to zero – account for half the fuel that is consumed."
"Michelin's Technology Centre has consequently developed a specific tire which features an extremely low rolling resistance. The RRc is approximately an eighth of the same figure for an average road tire. The Michelin tire used by World Solar Challenge competitors enables energy consumption to be reduced, but at the same time combines performance with safety and durability to form the balance of performance that Michelin promotes."
The 2009 World Solar Challenge was won at an amazing average speed of 62.3 mph by the Japanese prototype entered by Tokai University which finished just ahead of the Delft University entry from the Netherlands. Both cars were equipped with Michelin tires.