October 12, 2004 The 6th annual Challenge Bibendum opened today in Shanghai, the first time the landmark sustainable automobile competition has visited Asia. The three-day event is designed to promote sustainable road mobility and has brought together the most influential players in the global automotive industry. Created in 1998 by Michelin Group to mark the one-hundredth anniversary of Bibendum, the "Michelin Man", Challenge Bibendum has quickly become a premier forum for industry, policymakers and experts to review the latest technologies and progress made in the area of alternative energies. This unique event also serves as a testing ground and it is the only one that showcases concept cars featuring technologies often never unveiled before.
The stars of the event are the contesting vehicles - this year 106 automotive companies have entered 140 vehicles, including two three and four wheel passenger and commercial vehicles, of which 79 will be submitted to real-world, on-road tests during the challenge. The exotica on show is remarkable, as many of these vehicles are either being unveiled for the first time, or have previously never been seen beyond the doors of international motor shows. This year contestants include the hybrid Volkswagen "Sun Diesel" Golf IV, Ford Escape Hybrid, Opel Zafira Hydrogen 3, Nissan X-Trail FCV, Peugeot's four-wheel Quark and Audi's A8 TDI.
The trend is clearly in favour of electric cars this year.
Thanks to new lithium batteries, the range for electric cars is approaching 400km, far more than just a year ago. This technological progress has facilitated the design of some amazing vehicles such as Courrèges EXE and Volvo 3CC featured elsewhere in Gizmo. These vehicles offer acceleration on par with top sports cars, while emitting no pollution.
In a nutshell, all promising fuel-cell technologies worldwide will be represented at this year's Challenge Bibendum.
Michelin will unveil two concept cars at the event - the Michelin HY-LIGHT, a light and efficient hydrogen-powered car developed in partnership with the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI), and Michelin CONCEPT which demonstrates how electromechanical systems associated with electronic controls can be used to improve road holding and comfort.
Even more prominent at the event than the manufacturers are the governments of the globe - apart from the People's Republic of China and from the City of Shanghai, which are strongly supporting this year's Challenge Bibendum, there are many official representatives from such institutions as the French Ministry of Transport (Mr. de Robien, Minister of Transport), the European Commission, FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile), WBCSD (World Business Council for Sustainable Development), the USA's EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DOE (Department of Energy), UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) and Japan's MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport).
A trailblazing event, Challenge Bibendum has contributed to the rise of emerging environmentally-friendly technologies since its creation in 1998.
For example, at that first event, Nissan tested the up and coming lithium batteries: a technology which is now available and fully operational. Challenge Bibednum participants are divided into two major divisions: passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles. The results are compiled by category of vehicle, and by energy source (biofuel, biodiesel, diesel, electricity, gasoline, hydrogen, natural gas and liquid petroleum gas) or technology (battery, fuel cell, hybrid and internal combustion engine).
Michelin's aim with the event is to provide decision-makers with impartial information on the latest technological advances in the field of environment-friendly vehicles.