Daimler has claimed to be the most successful participant in this year's Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Shanghai with "a total of 23 distinctions" for various models.

Seven cars from the automaker's Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands competed as 80 models in total were tested for acceleration, manoeuvrability, noise pollution, local pollutants, fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions (tank-to-tyre).

The Mercedes E300 Bluetec, launched recently in Europe and as a lease-only model in California, finished first in the 170km rally for production cars. Distinctions for the best design went to the Smart Fortwo Cdi in the production car category as well as to the Mercedes-Benz F600 in the prototype car category, Daimler said.

Challenge Bibendum ran from 14-17 November and attracted over 3,000 participants including vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, energy companies, private and institutional research and development operations as well as 450 journalists.

Daimler said its fleet "reflected the company's powertrain strategy which is systematically geared to mastering the challenges which will arise in future private transport: ever more restricted access to cities, more stringent emission limits and ever scarcer resources versus the growing demand for individual mobility".

The automaler reckons the internal combustion engine will remain the top automotive drive system for now, "which is why Daimler is systematically working on its continuous improvement".

"The efficient and clean diesel engine, for instance, is particularly suitable for long-distance motoring," Daimler said, adding that its new Mercedes-Benz Diesotto "demonstrates how the gasoline engine can be made even more economical in the future. When required, both diesel and gasoline engine can be combined with a hybrid module which additionally reduces fuel consumption and thus emissions in city traffic."

Daimler noted that alternative drive systems such as fuel cell or battery will complement the portfolio for specific applications - matched to the customer's requirements. Zero-emission vehicles powered by fuel cells or batteries are, for instance, a viable proposition for motoring in conurbations. On long distances, the fuel cell can in addition bring its advantages in terms of range to bear.

"Over and beyond this, Daimler promotes the development of high-grade and alternative fuels such as BTL (biomass-to-liquid), a second-generation biofuel," the automaker said.