Michelin Challenge Bibendum – 2014 Chengdu, China

OK, I admit it…I needed a “study break” from learning Chinese vocabulary and writing characters!  So, I made a quick trip from Dali to Chengdu to attend the 12th Michelin Challenge Bibendum, a global event aimed at bringing together many of the world’s experts in sustainable mobility. Michelin released their Green Paper report yesterday – outlining 5 Global Challenges, 5 Game Changers and 5 Actionable Levers.  This week’s Bibendum is focused on encouraging and challenging the innovation and action required to achieve the needed improvements in sustainable mobility.


Michelin’s 110 Page Green Paper on Sustainable Mobility released in Chengdu, China on Nov 13, 2014

This year’s event struck me as significant in terms of the extent to which “sustainable mobility” has replaced the “clean transportation” focus of the past. There is a growing emphasis on moving people (and freight) from point A to point B in the most efficient, convenient, and cost-effective manner possible – especially as 75% of all people globally are expected to live in urban cities by 2050.

The world of "IT" and Big Data are making significant contributions to more efficient mobility solutions.

The world of “IT” and Big Data are making significant contributions to more efficient mobility solutions.

Evidence of this shift from a “transportation” focus to a “mobility” emphasis at  this year’s Bibendum included significant engagement from the IT (Big Data) community, urban planning sector, and institutional investment market (Citigroup pointed out their successful issue of the industry’s first “Green Bond” earlier this year:  >$1.5B to help enable expanded deployment of lease programs for Toyota’s hybrid and alternative fueled vehicles).

One of the highlights for me at this year’s event was being fortunate enough to participate in a workshop aimed at improving Freight Efficiency in Emerging Markets like China.  Michelin is forming a global task force of industry experts that will work to produce a White Paper on the topic of “A Practical Roadmap to Improve Freight Efficiency in Growing Markets“.  The first draft is scheduled for distribution at the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC in December, 2015 (Paris, France).

After spending the past 25+ years in the clean transportation space, it seems to me that the convergence of Big Data and broad-based, system-wide IT solutions holds promise for remarkable breakthroughs in terms of total system efficiency, while providing end-users with greater mobility and enhanced convenience.  These factors should help attract some of the best and brightest students and young professionals to invest their talent and energy in moving this critical industry forward.  Truly exciting times for those involved in the innovation and delivery of new solutions like automated vehicles, connected vehicles, e-mobility, and continued improvements in powertrain and vehicle efficiency!

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© Kevin Beaty, YUNEV and “Feet on the Ground…”, 2014-2015.  All rights reserved.

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