Every year, Michelins Challenge
Bibendum presents the most environmentally-friendly innovations
from the worlds largest vehicle manufacturers, equipment manufacturers
and energy suppliers through a series of tests: pollution analysis,
noise, performance, safety and design. The 4th edition of this innovative
program, Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2002, took place this year
from September 22 to 25 in Europe, traveling from Heidelberg, Germany
to Paris, France, via the Hockenheim circuit and the European Parliament
in Strasbourg. The event offers all those involved in the automotive
and transportation sectors an opportunity to develop and evaluate
the performance of their safest and cleanest technologies to meet
the challenge of sustainable mobility.
The anticipated increase in the number of vehicles (from 800 million
cars in 2000 to two billion in 2050) and the obvious environmental
concerns that this presents to the future of mobility prompted Michelin
to create this event. It was not intended as another race to promote
their own brand, but rather a novel way to help focus attention
on the fact that cleaner automotive technologies need to be brought
Innovations profiled during the Challenge Bibendum require major
research projects by all those involved in the automotive and transportation
sectors, and some are already accessible and capable of high performance.
The Challenge brings together both concept cars and prototypes,
foreshadowing the future of the automobile. However, the event is
also open to production vehicles. The performance of these vehicles
is indeed proof that, year after year, the automobile industry is
taking concrete steps in favor of the environment.
Nearly 70 vehicles representing the whole range of energy sources
(gasoline, diesel, electricity, hybrid, fuel cells, LPG-c, NGV)
participated in the 2002 event, demonstrating that it is possible
to combine performance and driving pleasure with safer, more environmentally-friendly
mobility. Technical tests for this years Challenge Bibendum
were carried out with ADAC, a German automobile club.
This year, for the first time, meetings were held between a delegation
of Challenge Bibendum participants and members of the European Parliament.
Parliament president Pat Cox presided over the meeting that paired
Challenge Bibendum participants with members of the three commissions
to discuss issues related to sustainable mobility: President Luciano
Caveri of the Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism commission;
Mr. Goodwill of the European Parliamentarian representing President
Caroline Jackson of the Environment, Public Health and Consumer
Policy Commission; and President Carlos Westendorp y Cebeza of the
Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy commission.
A question and answer session also was provided for all participants
and journalists during which Edouard Michelin, CEO of the Michelin
Group, was able to address the distinguished audience. When asked
why Michelin invests in this event, Michelin commented, We
do it because we believe it is the right thing to do. He explained
that the Bibendum afforded Michelin with the opportunity to provide
the automotive industry with the unbiased forum it needs to demonstrate
its commitment to cleaner, greener technologies.
By its response and participation in Challenge Bibemdum, the automotive
industry obviously agrees. When asked if all of the participants
were required to use Michelin tires on their entry cars, the answer
was a resounding No! Michelins intent is to act
as an honest broker to advance technologies, while simultaneously
reinforcing its corporate commitment to sustainabilityas members
of the World Business for Sustainable Development and as a supplier
to the industry.
Next years event will be held September 23 to 25, 2003 in
Sonoma and San Francisco, CA. This will be the second Challenge
Bibendum in North America.
We are excited to have the event return to North America,
said Michael Fanning, vice president, public relations and government
affairs, Michelin North America. The North American market
already has several choices of hybrid and electrical vehicleswith
more coming every day. Challenge Bibendum is the perfect place to
showcase vehicles consumers can choose today to make our planet
a better place to live.
Plans for the 2003 event have already begun. The support from
Sonoma and San Francisco has been extraordinary, said Michelins
North American project leader Ron Musgnug. We considered many
locations for the 2003 event, but the work being done today in the
Bay Area to promote advanced technology vehicles is a wonderful
model to showcase to the world. The beauty of the wine country and
the forward thinking of the city and county of San Francisco will
be the perfect backdrop to the fifth Challenge Bibendum.
Vehicle testing, information booths and media seminars will be based
at the newly renovated Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. Vehicles will
then rally across the Golden Gate Bridge to conclude the event in
San Francisco. More than 200 international journalists are expected
for the 2003 event.
Although some Americans may be unfamiliar with the name Bibendum,
it is well known elsewhere in the world. Bibendum is
the original name of the Michelin Man: the ever-pleasant man of
tires that has symbolized Michelin for more than 100 years. The
first Challenge Bibendum was held in 1998 to help celebrate his
Complete information on the 2002 Challenge Bibendum in Europe as
well as updates on plans for the 2003 event are available at www.challengebibendum.com.