Michelin created the Challenge Bibendum in 1998—the centenary of Bibendum (the “Michelin Man”)—as a demonstration of technologies and progress towards the goal of sustainable mobility.
The 2006 Challenge, running 8-12 June in Paris, is organized around three themes: primary energies and energy carriers for the vehicles of the future; advanced technology for environmental protection in the context of increasing urbanization; and technology for road safety.
In the run-up to this 2006 Challenge, Michelin, in partnership with the LH2 survey institute, conducted an international online survey on the public perception of sustainable mobility.
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Carried out in five countries—China, France, Germany, Japan and the United States—the study found that while fewer than 20% of the people surveyed had heard of the term, 55%, when asked to choose a definition, said it meant mobility that is more respectful of the environment.
When asked to define the car of tomorrow, three-quarters said it would be non-polluting. Other criteria were far behind in the poll, notably safety (27% for a car that automatically avoided obstacles) and technology (19% for a computer-driven car and 18% for a totally silent vehicle). There was a divide between the Asians (Chinese and Japanese) who emphasized onboard intelligence, and the Europeans, who focused on environmental protection.
The people surveyed generally were not willing to make radical changes in their behavior to protect the environment. Overall, just 41% said that public transportation should be used increasingly and only 21% said they were willing to pay more for a cleaner car. With regard to this issue, the countries whose citizens are most concerned about the environment were China (28%) and Germany (27%).
Three-quarters of the people surveyed said that there wouldn’t be enough oil 30 years from now. This view was held by 74% of the French and 85% of the Chinese, while the Americans were the least worried (66%).
Globally, those surveyed looked to electricity, followed by natural gas and biofuels as key technologies for the next five years. For the longer term, they favored solar energy and fuel cells. Water, however, was overwhelmingly cited as a having little credibility as an energy source. And 28% of Americans still believe that gasoline will be the energy of the future.
One of the survey’s big surprises to Michelin was that the car engine, the major source of automotive fuel consumption, was mentioned by only 35% of the people surveyed as having a real impact on the environment. Tires, whose rolling resistance accounts for one tank of gas out of five, was mentioned by 24% of respondents, ranking it seventh in terms of environmental impact.
Overall, the respondents judged the most important source of vehicle fuel consumption was sudden stops and starts (58%), uneven driving speeds (48%) and traffic jams (40%). France and Japan were the countries that rated traffic jams highest as a source of fuel consumption.
56% of the Japanese believe that the goal of sustainable road mobility is to reduce automobile pollution, the highest percentage in any of the countries included in the survey.
Half of the Japanese feel that the use of public transportation should be encouraged to promote the concept of sustainable road mobility. 84% of them say they would be willing to pay 5% more for a cleaner car.
Japan, along with China, is one of the countries that is most receptive to the concept of sustainable road mobility. Confronted with heavy road traffic in a limited amount of space, the Japanese are especially sensitive to the challenges of managing traffic flows, reducing urban pollution and protecting the environment, according to the survey results.
68% of the Germans believed that the goal of sustainable road mobility is to protect the environment—the highest percentage in any of the countries included in the survey. Virtually all Germans have heard about cars that run on biofuels. 83% of them believe that natural gas will be widely used to power motor vehicles within five years.
32% of the Americans surveyed believe that the goal of sustainable road mobility is to protect the environment, the lowest percentage in any of the countries included in the study. Half of the Americans surveyed think that the goal is to reduce urban traffic congestion, the highest percentage in any of the five countries. Half of them feel that public transportation should be used increasingly to promote the concept of sustainable road mobility. For one out of four Americans, the energy of the future will be gasoline.
Half of the Chinese surveyed have heard about sustainable road mobility. In China, promoting more environmentally friendly road traffic is the most often mentioned objective of sustainable road mobility (65%), followed by alleviating urban congestion (51%) and reducing automotive emissions (also 51%).
59% of the Chinese surveyed say they have heard of biofuels, compared with 53% in Japan, the two lowest percentages of the five countries in which the survey was conducted. 86% of them say they would be willing to pay 5% more for a cleaner car.
The survey included 5,061 Web users age 18 to 65 (1,061 from France and 1,000 each from China, Japan, the United States and Germany), conducted online from February 27 to March 10, 2006 using the quota method of sampling.