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Michelin Survey on Sustainable Mobility


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.

Click to enlarge.

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.


Rafael Seidl

Traffic management will indeed be a requirement for many urban areas, especially in fast-growing emerging economies where urban planners have neither the time nor the experience to deal with the onslaught of new vehicle registrations.

One idea would be to use manned (or even unmanned) drone aircraft that circle overhead and record video of key chokepoints. On-board software would create in real time a dynamic map of traffic density and average speeds, leading to a congestion index. Such software exists today, running on regular PC hardware. The congestion information would then be broadcast via digital radio using a suitably robust open source protocol (based on frequency hopping, reliable multicast concepts etc.)

Vehicles equipped with navigation systems that can parse these broadcasts would create overlays to the static maps already stored on-board. If upcoming sections of the planned route are reported to be congested, the navigation system would compute a detour. Such systems are also already available in high-end vehicles, with prices expected to come down.

The broadcast service could easily be augmented with third-party information, e.g. police announcements regarding road closures or anticipated congestion, traffic accidents and associated debris, waether-related temporary speed limits etc. Parking garages could provide information about available spaces in real time.

The advantage of wireless systems is that you avoid the expense and envoronmental damage of additional road signs. The disadvantage is the increased cost to the consumer. However, with suitable lead time, adequate navigation systems could be mandated by law. Everything you build in high volume eventually becomes cheap.


The only way to get traffic moving smoothly again will be a combo of getting as many people as possible to not need to travel AND exapanding the key roadways everyone needs to use to commute.

Frankly quite a few freeways in america should already have been 20 even 30 lanes. There simply are millions going alone narrow patha that cant handle even 100s of thousands.

Bypasses and parralel highways are also options. Bu the one non optional thing is more highways/roads where its needed.

Every city in america shuld be required to have MORE then enough roads and highway capacity to eliminate traffic jams or they should not be allowed to lisence or site any new bussinesses or homes until they do.

Rafael Seidl

Reducing the volume of traffic, especially during rush hour, would of course be desireable. Unfortunately, not every profession lends itself to telecommuting. Even companies that do offer it (e.g. Hewlett-Packard in Silicon Valley) are cutting back, presumably because labor productivity (per dollar spent) is still higher when work is done in offices.

Public transportation is only used if the network is dense and highly connected, wait intervals short, comfort, safety & security adequate and the alternative (driving with a car) sufficiently unattractive. Vienna, Austria is a good but nowhere near perfect example. The option of taking a (foldable) bicycle along in the train or bus sometimes works, depending on terrain and climate. Electric bicycles are an alternative to public transport for some.

However, affluent people living in the suburbs hate paying depreciation, insurance etc. on a car they are not using, plus it takes too long to commute to the city center. Not owning a car at all is usually not a realistic option for them, as public transportation between suburbs is often poorly developed and the distances too large for bicycles.

Carpooling and carpool lanes at least increase the number of occupants per vehicle, but scheduling uncertainties mean many cannot use them effectively. A clever way to make ridesharing more attractive would be dynamically routed vans or small buses. Simulated annealing could be used to approximately solve the traveling salesman problems this entails. In Europe, there are plenty of unemployed people who could drive such vehicles, especially if they lost welfare benefits if they refused to do so.

Simply adding more road capacity, especially freeway capacity, is no panacea. While neccessary up to a point to respond to essentially fixed residential and commercial zoning and development, you typically end up shifting the bottleneck elsewhere. You also encourage further urban sprawl and hence, yet more traffic and all that entails. Boston's mammoth Big Dig project took two decades to complete; half-way through, planners realized that even the additional capacity would be insufficient.

Ideally, you'd want to achieve intelligent densification of your city centers, by replacing low-rise with medium or high-rise buildings. However, most people's ideal home is a detached low-rise dwelling surrounded by a garden. This ideal is not going to change unless it becomes unattainable, e.g. because traffic is permanentl snarled up (Los Angeles) or, because the cost of fuel becomes exorbitant and stays there. Even then, urban densification is a very slow process as buildings have (very) long lifespans. Roads last even longer, at least one of Vienna's thoroughfares is believed to date back to the Romans.

Planners in emerging economies would be wise to take heed and avoid repeating the mistakes of their Western counterparts. This is true even where land appears to be in plentiful supply.


It doesnt matter a wit if it puhes the bottleneck down the line as long as the bottleneck is psuhed past the point the large influx of drivers travels.

Alot of road troubles are thank god going to go away once remote presense tech gets fihsied up enough that you REALY can do quality work remotely. I expect whole legions of workers to be remote presensed via android shells within 30 years simply because it will be cheaper AND allow a worker to work extra hours and STILL have more free time.

Mind you when that happens and it WILL alot of cities will go to hell as tax base leaves em.


No more roads and no more highways and no more lanes, thank you. We've already paved over enough of our land as it is.

We don't need to make driving easier; we need to make it more difficult so that there will be an incentive for people to take mass transit. The only lanes that we should be adding are special bus lanes and special carpool lane.


Do you realy think that works? Do you realy think making it harder increases mass transit use when mass transit is so incapable of being used for soo many? No what it does is greatly increase the time and fuel used to commute.

You are the reason so many these days drive tanks.


Every city in america shuld be required to have MORE then enough roads and highway capacity to eliminate traffic jams or they should not be allowed to lisence or site any new bussinesses or homes until they do. - wintermane

By the time you do that, there won't be room for businesses or homes. Everything will have to be paved. I can't imagine how ugly a 30 lane highway would be. It would increase the urban heat-island effect, not to mention putting a blight on the landscape and encouraging people to drive more, using more energy that, for now, comes from fossil-fuels.

Mass transit is incapable of being used because we have so many highways. If we didn't have highways, people would demand better mass transit systems, and they would be built.

I say we put a moratorium on highway building, and slash federal highway subsidies to simply maintain existing roads. Take the savings and give it to communities to find new ways of moving around. Things like regional rail, commuter lines, and park-and-ride. Things that increase the efficiency of the system, because increasing efficiency is the best way to increase capacity. (If you increase efficiency by 20%, that means 20% more people can use the system before it reaches capacity again.)

And I don't believe that cities will die as people leave them. I live in a very nice city right now (Lancaster, PA), and I absolutely love it. It's cheap to live here, and I save a lot of money by being able to walk to work and to just about everything else I need.


Mas transit only works in some places for some people. Its a useful tool in those cityies that are compact enough and rich enough to use it.

As for a 30 lane highway being ugly. well DUH thats because to be blunt alot of places in america have too mucb bussinesses or too many people and should never have been allowed to exist as they are today anyway. Most of these places have balloned well beyond thier ability to efficently transport its people.

Besides it doesnt matter right now most of the most crowded cities on earth will be ruins in less then 70 years anyway as climate change gets REALY going.

Or do you realy think the morons in charge of most major cities can realy save em?


no really. t - yes, that would work, but only if the public transit system in place was effective and fast. take LA for example. to put it bluntly, the public transit system SUCKS. for me to go to the airport, which is just a few paces away from dowtown, i need to take 3 buses, one subway, and two light rail lines. and i still live in the city of los angeles! So yes, stop building roads, but please, make public trans work!

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