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Challenge Bibendum 2006 dedicated to Edouard Michelin

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Michelin Groupe recently held its eighth Challenge Bibendum to spotlight efforts in creating and sustaining mobility that is cleaner, safer and more fuel efficient, even in a post-oil world.

In prepared remarks at the start of the event, Groupe Michelin Managing Partner Michel Rollier said, "Since 1998, Challenge Bibendum has focused on providing private and public sector opinion leaders and decision-makers with objective information about the latest technological developments in automobiles and traffic management infrastructure.

"The goal is to work together to support the emergence of programs and policies most likely to address sustainable mobility issues, such as energy efficiency, road safety and the protection of our living and natural environments."

The opening of the event was quite poignant, with Rollier dedicating this year’s Challenge Bibendum to Edouard Michelin, who recently died in a boating accident at the age of 42. Edouard Michelin was co-managing partner with Rollier.

"When I speak about the spirit of Challenge Bibendum, it is with emotion, since it was Edouard Michelin who in previous years instilled the event with his warm, friendly enthusiasm," said Rollier.

"He was an ardent believer in the development of road mobility as a driver of progress and personal fulfillment. He firmly believed in a type of road mobility that is capable of anticipating ever-increasing environmental and energy constraints. This is the major challenge that we face today. As we remember his enthusiasm for this enormous undertaking, we are all deeply grieved by his sudden passing. I would therefore like to propose that this 2006 Challenge be dedicated to his memory."

This year’s event, held just outside Paris, France, attracted over 200 suppliers, including all major carmakers, equipment suppliers, energy suppliers and their technology suppliers, government officials and university representatives. There were also over 500 journalists from over 40 countries in attendance.

In addition to a conference, there were over 80 vehicles that were showcased and would be put through the Challenge Bibendum competition.

The vehicles fell into five different design categories –- prototypes, concept cars, utility vehicle prototypes, urban bus prototypes and urban vehicle prototypes. The propulsion of the vehicles could be internal combustion engines, electric motors or hybrids using known fuels, electricity, hydrogen and solar power.

They would ultimately be judged on environmental, safety and performance tests.

As for the future of Challenge Bibendum, Rollier said he intends to see it continue, with the next event perhaps taking place in the U.S. or Asia.

He said he wants to see it stay more than just a trade event. He was very encouraged that leading officials from the EU were present and said that he believes "unequivocally that they and their colleagues are very familiar with the event" and derive much information from it.

When a member of the international press questioned the lack of U.S. participation in the 2006 Challenge, Rollier was forceful in saying that "the U.S. has shown great support."

He pointed to the participation by U.S. car manufacturers and participation by the European subsidiaries of U.S. suppliers as strong evidence of this support.

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