The 11th Michelin Challenge Bibendum, which took place in Berlin, has proved the most popular to date with a record breaking 16,000 plus people attending the five-day event.
Organised by Michelin, this global ‘rally for sustainable mobility’ saw Berlin’s Templehof airport transformed into an exhibition centre, round-table conference rooms and test tracks to highlight the latest sustainable transport innovations and technologies. UK companies leading the way in innovative engine development and vehicle design were to the fore at Challenge Bibendum, with five Shell Springboard Award winning firms forming a UK Eco-Innovation Zone in the exhibition hall. Among them was Exeter-based Ashwoods, a hybrid and low carbon vehicle company whose hybrid van helped them claim a Challenge Bibendum Design Recognition Award – the only UK company to receive such an accolade at this year’s event.
Mark Roberts, Managing Director of Ashwoods Automotive, said: “We are extremely proud to be the only British company honoured in these awards. This further underlines the financial and environmental benefits that our fuel-saving technology is delivering across the UK today.”
On the first day, a parade of all the participating vehicles in front of the Brandenburg Gate was one of the highlights of this year’s event. This was in addition to the traditional series of rallies – the Intercity Passenger Car Rally, the Urban Vehicle Rally and the Battery Electric Rally – which are designed to test vehicles on various performance criteria including energy consumption, manoeuvrability and noise levels.
Indoors, 72 exhibitors displayed cutting-edge products and innovations in the Technological Exhibition Centre and conference rooms hosted 50 events including forums, round-tables and workshops, and first-time features such as the Leaders’ Forum. There was also a UK Eco-Innovation Zone, which showcased some of the best in British vehicle and engine design and manufacturing.
During the five days of Challenge Bibendum, over 16,000 people visited the event with 10,000 members of the public attending the first ever open day on the Sunday. One thousand students from all across Europe attended the Student Day – another first at this year’s event.
Eric Le Corre, Michelin UK’s Managing Director, said: “It gave me great pleasure to see such a strong UK presence at this year’s Challenge Bibendum, the biggest and best attended event to date. We had UK representatives from industry, public affairs, the press and universities; all of whom were extremely impressed with the exhibitions, debates, vehicles and the many new innovations on show.”
Innovation and technological advancement are key themes for every Challenge Bibendum event and 2011 was no exception as Michelin showcased some of its latest developments. These included a puncture-proof concept tyre which uses an inner material that distorts and stretches around the penetrating object preventing air-loss – an innovation which could make punctures a thing of the past.
Other concepts were small tyres for electric urban vehicles, large narrow tyres for improved aerodynamics and rolling resistance, and a high capacity truck tyre making twin-axle trailers a possibility in place of the three-axles currently used.
Michelin’s Active Wheel technology was also on display. Integrating all of an electric vehicle’s drive, suspension and braking components into the wheel itself, the Active Wheel offers the prospect of excellent handling, driving comfort and efficiency.
Out on the test tracks, 280 vehicles – including everything from a fuel-cell powered London black cab to the latest electric Formula One-style car – took to the tarmac, providing visitors with a first-hand vision of the green, clean motoring opportunities of the future.