Edouard Michelin, President and CEO of the Michelin Group
November 9, 2001- Los Angeles, California.
There are 700 million car of all sorts on the road around the world today. By the middle of the century they are expected to virtually triple to 2 billion, according to Edouard Michelin, the young and enthusiastic President and CEO of the Michelin Group, who spoke recently at a series of press briefings at the third Michelin Bibendum Challenge (MBC).
Monsieur Michelin said that "if we do not want this increase to be detrimental to the planet in terms of global warming and energy depletion, the development has to happen through clean technologies. Michelin's contribution towards this development is what the car industry already regards as the "clean car Olympic Games" they must attend.
The event, the first organised in the United States but the third since 1998, is a real life automotive "road" show promoted and organised by Michelin with the aim of exposing low emission vehicles of different sorts testing a wide range of technologies and fuels. This is a unique opportunity for the car industry, research institutes, universities, the press and the public at large to check out the state of the art, and progress, in the search for cleaner (and in many cases more fuel efficient) automobiles from makers all over the world.
For years the French tyre maker Michelin has taken a very active approach to the development of green tyres, well aware that tyres can play a major role in reducing fuel consumption, and will be required to do so more and more in the future. According to Edouard Michelin tyre friction counts today for 20 percent of the consumption in cars with an overall fuel efficiency of 30 miles per gallon and, so unless tyres keep pace with vehicle development they might well represent 40 to 50 per cent in some years when cars will do 80 miles per gallon .
Because of its relationships with the car makers at large, Michelin has made sure the event makes every entrant a winner of its own challenge measuring itself with pre-determined performance thresholds set by the organisers. Each car has been tested and measured for emission, noise, acceleration braking, slalom, efficiency and range. These criteria, plus design, allow to sort out the good ones and the best. And there are amazing surprises to be confronted with.
Land in Los Angeles on a bad day and you clearly realize that although California emission standards have dramatically improved the situation (or prevented it to get worse), the air is still a far cry from being satisfactorily clean.
You also understand why Michelin has chosen Los Angeles as the starting point of its first Challenge Bibendum in California. On one side the United States is the largest car market in the world (and the nation with more cars and truck on the road). On the other side California is the State with the strongest and longest focus on the environment.
The good news from the headquarters of the AAA of Southern California, where the Michelin Bibendum started, is that the Challenge Bibendum demonstrates how our car are getting cleaner and cleaner, day after day, and will be eventually be as clean as we like them to be. Ultimately it is up to the buyer to approve the current developments by signing their bank checks to buy a new cleaner car.
Clean cars cannot be simply rational, efficient and reliable, they also need to be emotional and attractive to sell in great numbers, stressed Mr. Michelin, explaining why the Challenge Bibendum also awards its trophies for to best design. Design is one of the disciplines considered by the challenge.
The event started with the Design Jury work that has honoured the design . "Design is an important part of the vehicles personality and charm," said Dick Ruzzin, former Design Director for Cadillac and Chevrolet, and chairman of the design committee. " But creative design can be an enhancement to vehicle performance and vice-versa. Aerodynamics, lighter weight materials, even tire/wheel systems can add to the function as well as beauty of a vehicles design."
The Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2001 Design Awards Judges Panel included well known design industry experts: Dan Ellis, Dave Hackett, Paul Ianuario, Carl Olsen, Chuck Pelly, Bill Porter, Bill Robinson, Sonja Schiefer, Orval Selders, Gerhard Steinle, Dave Stollery and Geoff Wardle.
Unfortunately, famed vehicle designer Sergio Pininfarina, who was the honorary chairman of the design committee, was unable to attend the event.
The panel was asked to select the best interior, exterior and integration of overall design and new technologies in three vehicle categories, with no distinction between production and concept vehicles. Based on design quality, functionality, integration and innovation of design, the jury granted ten awards, the equivalent of an Olympic Gold medal in different disciplines.
- Three to the Audi A8 3 for Interior Design, Exterior Design and for Design Integration/Use of New Technology (Mid-Size/Full Size):
- Two awards were presented to the 2001 Audi A2 for Interior Design and for Exterior Design (Sub-compact/Compact):
- Two to the 2002 Honda CRV for Interior Design and for Exterior Design (Lt. Truck/Van/SUV):
- One to the 2002 Honda Insight for Design Integration/Use of New Technology (Sub-compact/Compact):
One to the 2000 GM-Opel Zafira and (Tie) Toyota FCHV for Design Integration/Use of New Technology (Lt. Truck/Van/SUV).
Photos: Archivio Perini ©