`The Real Green initiative is the next big thing in AUTOBEST history, the biggest step coming in a decade! ` stated Dan Vardie on stage of the AUTOBEST Awards Gala in Istanbul back in 2008. `As a central piece, we will launch a ground breaking customer-oriented competition named ECOBEST Challenge to measure the real green credentials of the modern cars in real life, real traffic with the average European customer habits. For the first time we will determine real figures by measuring and not by delivering computer generated data, following the European testing cycle. This is kind of obvious for millions of motorists that are complaining that the figures provided by manufacturers are too optimistic- first in consumption. ` added Dan Vardie who conceived this new project.
Back then, the initiative also introduced, as a first, the necessity of making people more aware about eco-driving techniques, the necessity for governments to introduce special incentives for green cars going to zero taxation for plug- in cars and hydrogen fuel cell propulsion cars. It was also discussed how to make the governments and the local communities to invest in stations for electric charge, hydrogen stations and alternative de -carbonated fuels. Keeping in mind that plug-ins were very few and regarded a very distant – if- alternative, the AUTOBEST project is even more impressive.
That time was the era of downsizing for the engines, believed to be the future of motoring. The categories of cars to be tested during the ECOBEST Challenge were:
-ICE gasoline cars with 3 cylinders / max 1 l capacity
-diesel engines with less than 100 g/ km
-mild and full hybrids
-Plug in Hybrids
-Hydrogen Fuel Cell
-prototypes with alternative propulsion like solar power vehicles and more
It was introduced the idea of a series of EcoC proprietary indexes to make consumers to easily understand how green are in reality the new cars. Some of these were highly complicated formulas based on non-linear complex mathematics. Even more, in the desire to protect as patents these revolutionary formulas, AUTOBEST did the research with specialized agencies which revealed that nowhere around the globe there is a practice in such domain. Anyhow, the prohibitive price of the homologation of patents forced AUTOBEST to put on hold this operation.
The complexity behind organizing such a competition and the huge budget involved, led AUTOBEST to look for international partnerships. In the middle of the next decade, AUTOBEST sealed a partnership with Peter AUTO, the well-known French organizer of the best vintage cars events in Europe. Later on, Bureau Veritas and T & E joined the consortium. The 4 partners applied for a grant at European Commission to make possible the realization of the most ambitious project ever imagined in Europe in the field of real green. As the period of the application was in the same time with the introduction of the new WLTP testing cycle (replacing the old NEDC), the EC considered that it’s new cycle will be able to deliver real figures with no need to check how real are the results. But in AUTOBEST we soon realized that although WLTP is closer to the reality compared with NEDC it is still too optimistic. And today, after 3 editions of ECOBEST Challenge, we proved that this is a fact.
Some said once that the nickname of AUTOBEST is `mission impossible`. This was coming during pandemic time when AUTOBEST was the only independent motoring media in Europe addressing to a total market of more than 400 million people. In spite of all the hurdles, AUTOBEST managed to stick to the regular program including the Final Test. This spirit is a constant philosophy at AUTOBEST and is allowing to make things possible in spite of all the odds.
As a pilot program, on November 20-th, 2009, it was organized at a very small scale an Eco Rest in Bucharest, Romania. This first try with some local celebrities – including the multi Olimpic champion for canoe, the late Ivan Patzaichin and the famous gymnastics coach Octavian Bellu- proved the validity of the concept. Even on a very small scale, the Eco Test was well regarded by the consumers as a reference for the reality of driving.
The fist ECOBEST Challenge was organized in 2018 in Barcelona in cooperation with www.coches.net , the leading Spanish media outlet. AUTOBEST introduced the human random factor, the first concept to propose a real `average European driver`, a concept well received by the consumers everywhere. The first measurements of the drive test of several EV’s shown for the first time the potential but also the limits of the EV’s of that time. At this edition AUTOBEST introduced in premiere the measurement of autonomy left in the car from the moment the cluster indicates `zero battery`. It was for the first time proven that each car is keeping a `life` in the `dead` battery.
AUTOBEST decided to go only for EV’s, a light form of the ECOBEST Challenge concept. `It was a very tough decision. We realized that introducing any form of car using an ICE engine – even PHEV- will require specialized equipment’s (like PEMS) to measure not only the real consumption but also the real emissions -CO2 first of all-, pollutants, microparticles , etc The budget for such a project was far too high for our organization’s financial capabilities. But we never gave up to the idea of coming back to the initial, complex idea. We are continuously seeking partnerships to make this possible. ` explained Dan Vardie back then.
Due to the pandemic, we were forced to postpone the event for 2021, another very successful edition organized in Terrassa, Spain in cooperation with www.coches.net . It was simply better, with more detailed measurements and results. We also introduced the famous EcoC 1, 2 and 3 indexes. Probably the most important index which is defining the energy efficiency on board of each car. It is a very simple, intuitive figure expressing how many km each car can drive with 1 kWh of respective battery on board. AUTOBEST considers this index as the first to unify all the consumers from all continents in the quest to push the car industry to work relentlessly for a better efficiency in consuming the energy stored on the battery on board of cars.
This edition was the first one when a strategic partnership with VINFAST was established. AUTOBEST and the Vietnamese emerging car manufacturer shares the same values about the real green credentials and about how to serve the consumers. Both organizations believe that only reliable information about EV’s are the best argument in front of all the consumers. The partnership was prolonged for 2022 and more.
Also at this edition, Circutor, the leading Spanish company in the field of electrical connections and charging stations, was partnering with AUTOBEST.
The 3rd edition organized in 2022 in Vairano, Italy in cooperation with Quattroruote, the Italian car Bible, was coming not only with more measurements and indexes -EcoC4 just being introduced- but also with a specialized app able to give a plethora of data’s via OBD wireless connection.
Oppo and E-gap partnered with AUTOBEST in providing the mobile terminals for the special app and the emergency mobile charge for totally depleted cars in competition.
So far, this is just the beginning of a new era. The 4th edition of ECOBEST Challenge is shaping up to be even better than the previous ones. AUTOBEST is boldly developing the project every year in the quest to become the real standard of green credentials in the car industry. It is a project encouraged by many millions of motorists embracing the electromobility, who are eager to know the real related figures.