The message is clear, green mobility is everybody\\$quot;s responsibility. Challenge Bibendum in Paris showcased the numerous technological alternatives and possibilities in practise and provided the public with an opportunity to understand freedom of movement, social strains and energy supply problems.

As the numerous vehicles dedicated to sustainable mobility rolled in to the Champ De Mars by the Eiffel Tower in Paris to demonstrate the future challenges of clean mobility, the Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2006 was officially opened to the general public.

Around 75 cars powered by fuel cells, electricity, CNG and LPG were greeted in sunny France by thousand of Parisians, tourists, industry experts, members of the worldwide media and the top management of companies such as Air Liquide, Michelin and DaimlerChrysler.

Among the drivers of the \\$quot;˜green\\$quot; vehicles was Air Liquide\\$quot;s chairman Benoit Potier himself, who drove one of the three Mercedes Class A cars equipped with a fuel cell powered by hydrogen. He told gasworld: \\$quot;I had a brief discussion with the CEO of DaimlerChrysler and I asked his thoughts on when he believes the hydrogen economy will become real. His views were that instead of the hydrogen economy taking at least 20 years to become real, it will become a reality in the next 10 to 12 years.

Challenge Bibendum saw some 75 alternative fuel demonstration cars rolling in to be inspected by public and experts.///

\\$quot;This is fantastic because it means that our generation is able to experience the new technology and it\\$quot;s no longer something that will become reality for the generations beyond us. It won\\$quot;t happen today or tomorrow but perhaps a day after tomorrow.

\\$quot;Air Liquide has some 100 hydrogen filling stations all over the world to demonstrate the technology and to show the public a very promising alternative solution. Today\\$quot;s demonstration has been very encouraging and I am pleased with the rally and the public interest we achieved,\\$quot; he said excitedly.

Indeed, Challenge Bibendum was created to demonstrate the wide range of technological solutions that will enable the 1.5 billion cars on the road in 2030 (twice as many as today) to continue supporting economic development and freedom of movement, without creating unacceptable disamenities for society at large or energy supply problems.

Partners of Challenge Bibendum also demonstrated a number of new energy distribution systems. Air Liquide, for example, presented its new hydrogen station (EDF electric terminal), Gas de France a compressed natural gas reloading station for personal use and Michelin demonstrated rolling resistance. The public were also able to move up into a driver\\$quot;s seat, test drive electric cycles and go on a test drive around Paris in normal traffic conditions.

Inside a hydrogen car

At noon, all the vehicles returned to CERAM, an automotive test track and research facility in Mortefontaine, north of Paris. CERAM, which was impressively build by Michelin in only three weeks, provided invited participants an opportunity to test vehicles, attend demonstrations, visit fuelling stations and tour approximately 50 stands at the learning centre.

Air Liquide CEO Benoit Potier demonstrate to the public the filling of a hydrogen car.///

As the curious car enthusiasts test drove vehicles on show around the CERAM racetrack I was also offered a taster of the futute and experienced a trip in a hydrogen-powered vehicle. To my amazement the ride was smooth, comfortable and above all very quiet. Whilst the driver of the Michelin team started the engine I noticed there was no noise what so ever, which is something that clearly differentiates this \\$quot;˜green option\\$quot; from a normal petrol car. A primary benefit of using pure hydrogen as a power source as well was the fact that it uses oxygen from the air to produce water vapour as exhaust.

I asked the Michelin driver whether he preferred this vehicle to a conventional car, to which he replied that he didn\\$quot;t think it was a matter of choice whilst the world\\$quot;s oil sources are drying out.

Forum Bibendum

The successful weekend was concluded on the following day with Forum Bibendum at the Paris La Defence, Centre of New Industries and Technologies (CNIT). The forum was officially opened by the president of Michelin, Michael Rollier, who welcomed all the participants, media and partners to the forum. Following this, the audience heard a number of 10-minute speeches from experts around the world.

First in turn was Dr Silvio Crestana, CEO of EMBRAPA, who fervently talked through the issue of biofuels in Brazil and how this alternative can play a significant and growing role in the country whilst the long-term domination of hydrogen for transport is still uncertain.

His speech was followed by Jeffrey Seisler, executive director of European Natural Gas Vehicles Association. He held a passionate talk on how natural gas vehicles are around 30 \\$quot;“ 50 per cent cheaper to run compared to fossil fuel ones, environmental benefits, reduced noise and safety features. He said: \\$quot;I have a natural gas powered Volvo and I am paying around €0,40 per litre compared to the current petrol price of around €1.40 per litre.\\$quot;

He also spoke about this alternative as an option available today, not in the future. He said: \\$quot;The technology is available today and there are some 65 manufacturers worldwide who produce nearly 300 vehicle models and engines. The challenge is to bring the higher first cost down as these passenger cars are today €3,000 more expensive than traditional cars.\\$quot;

Seisler also criticised the current European funding system in his speech. He continued: \\$quot;Natural gas powered vehicles haven\\$quot;t got the \\$quot;˜sex appeal\\$quot; that hydrogen powered or electric cars have due to lack of funding. Whereas these two options have received significant public sector funding, natural gas alternative hasn\\$quot;t. This technology has real potential to have a five per cent share of the world\\$quot;s vehicles by 2020. It\\$quot;s ready today and it makes sense.\\$quot;

Air Liquide\\$quot;s new hydrogen station (EDF electric terminal) on show at Champ De Mars in Paris.///

More initiatives from different countries were also explored by Dr Alan Lloyd, president of International Council for Clean Transportation. He spoke about hydrogen in California, its 21 hydrogen stations, hundred vehicles, the support of governor Schwarzenegger for the state\\$quot;s hydrogen highway network and the need to get away from dependence on petroleum.

Finally a talk on electricity in China was given by Professor Dr Gang Wan, president of Tongji University (Shanghai). He covered the concern of increasing pollution in major Chinese cities, green vehicle projects and GEF/UNDP bus commercialisation demonstration programmes. According to Wan there are currently eight demonstration projects in China and for example in the city of Wu Han there are currently 20 hybrid buses and 95 electric vehicles. He said: \\$quot;By 2008 there will be about 18,000 clean vehicles (gas, hybrid, battery EVs, FCVs) and 1000 electric vehicles in Beijing. Additionally another 1000 fuel cell vehicles are expected to be on the roads by 2010.\\$quot;

Closing the gap

The morning part of the Forum Bibendum climaxed with a debate formed of six members from the energy (CEO Benoit Potier of Air Liquide and vice president Jack Jacometti of Shell), automobile (CEO Jean\\$quot;“Martin Folz of Peugeot Citroen and deputy general director Jean-Loius Ricaud of Renault) and government sectors (deputy director Sadanori Ito of METI and chairwoman Euro-Mediterranean Networks of Transport Loyola de Palacio of the European Union).

The members of the panel were questioned about different subjects varying from different forms and use of fuels, solutions for tomorrow, and the challenges of the industry, governments and consumers. Renaults\\$quot; Ricaud gave his views on the challenges of oil, CO2 emissions and market. He also spoke about the challenges of Renault and the need to create sophisticated solutions for Western Europe, US and Japan together with effective and cheap solutions for up and coming markets such as India, China and eastern Europe. He said: \\$quot;We need to have a stricter balance between price and efficiency.\\$quot;

Air Liquide\\$quot;s Potier on the other hand spoke about Air Liquide\\$quot;s mission of developing technology in terms of environment by reducing carbon with an effective use of hydrogen. He said: \\$quot;Sulphur is a problem and we think that the common denominator is the use of hydrogen and oxygen. We are at the cross road of these gases and there are solutions we can provide to reduce sulphur.

\\$quot;The industrial gas industry work with R&D to find all these technologies that finds our industry in more diversified world. There is no one technology but a lot of technologies. We are living today and work to close this gap between today\\$quot;s world and future world.\\$quot;

The eighth Challenge Bibendum was dedicated to the memory of Edouard Michelin, who actively promoted the event from its creation in 1998 and whose death in late May was a tragic loss. The 2006 Challenge Bibendum was held 8 \\$quot;“ 12 June in Paris.
More information on the event can be found at