A perfect storm of global conditions and concerns made a watershed event out of the ninth version of Michelin's ``Challenge Bibendum'' demonstration of green technology for vehicles.
The United Nations just released its latest report, the most dire yet, on the effects of global warming. Oil is hovering around $100 a barrel, and that plus low U.S. inventories jacked up gas prices to more than $3 a gallon. The cost of anything that has an oil connection-and that's just about everything-continues to rise.
Against that backdrop Michelin brought vehicle makers, energy suppliers, research institutes and others in the field to Shanghai to show what they are doing to promote ``sustainable mobility,'' the buzzword for alternative-fuel technology.
The Nov. 13-17 event was impressive and diverse. An exhibition, test runs, discussions, press conferences and speeches drew 3,000 participants, and more than 80 alternative cars, trucks, buses and two-wheelers cruised the roads near the exhibition center. If success were measured by worldwide press coverage alone, this was a stunner.
Michelin's aim was to show there are many technological solutions to the vehicle component of today's hydrocarbon-based problems. The tire maker pointed out that by 2030, there will be 1.5 billion cars on the road-twice as many as today. The ``challenge'' is to find ways to meet that growth while not having a negative impact on society and energy supply.
The locale for the event was perfect, too. China is second only to the U.S. in oil consumption and vehicle sales, and it has a much-faster growth rate. To help itself and the world in general, China needs to foster clean-car technology.
Considering the haze of pollution that sits over Shanghai, Beijing and other big Chinese cities, the country has a way to go. So does the world as a whole, though.
Michelin's event is a start.