Michelin's innovative tyres are made with a unique compound that immediately plugs holes in the tread
Michelin's innovative tyres are made with a unique compound that immediately plugs holes in the tread

Challenge Bibendum takes green ideas and makes them road-worthy

When a Renault Fluence wins a rally, there are bound to be exceptional circumstances. In the case of the Intercity Rally at the 11th Michelin Challenge Bibendum last month, the underwhelming mid-size saloon not only sealed an overall win, but also carried away an additional five trophies.

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One of the centrepieces of the Challenge Bibendum - a global gathering of manufacturers, inventors and innovators under the banner of sustainability and mobility - the Intercity Rally covered a distance of 300km through the towns and countryside around Berlin and featured passenger cars that were measured on a number of factors, including well-to-wheel CO2 emissions. The electric Fluence ZE also comprehensively outperformed the Tesla supercar in manoeuvrability and was most energy-efficient overall.

Rather than being dull and worthy, as so many eco-events can be, the Challenge Bibendum attempts to demonstrate real solutions to sustainability issues. Taking place this year at Berlin's Tempelhof airport, the Segways, electric personal transporters, driverless buses, electric farm machinery and sustainable supercars made for a bizarre spectacle within this historic urban space.

While the runways of Tempelhof would have roared to the sound of airlines bringing much-needed supplies during the Berlin Airlift of the Cold War, they were eerily silent during the Bibendum as at least 280 green vehicles flexed their electric muscles.

"What we see here is that the technology for sustainable mobility already exists, and the challenge now is to make it part of everyday motoring," said Michel Rollier, managing general partner of the Michelin Group, the event's organiser, in his opening address. "Eleven years ago, at the first Challenge Bibendum, sustainable motoring was not a priority. However, it has since become the burning issue of our time and, over the years, innovators have addressed the challenges."

Before the event, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "The crucial question today is to know what sustainable mobility should look like. Originally faster and faster, then safer and safer and now cleaner and cleaner, this is the evolutionary path of production in the mobility sector."

More than strong words by global figures, Challenge Bibendum is about the vehicles in their geeky and futuristic glory. For example, produced by French former Formula One constructor Ligier, the Vipa was highly visible at Tempelhof. Using something akin to a missile guidance system, this electric driverless bus uses cameras and GPS to map routes and analyse images. It is expected to be introduced into French car parks and office complexes this year.

Elsewhere, the Italian Tazzari Zero is branded as the "world's first urban sports vehicle". Good looking, sporty and green, this electric vehicle has been made entirely out of recyclable materials and even its lithium batteries can be recycled whenever they are replaced.

Exceptionally ugly but outstandingly sustainable, the Twike is billed as a "human-electric hybrid vehicle". Resembling a bubble car, it can carry two passengers and their shopping through a combination of battery and old-fashioned pedal power, with the battery fully charged from a home plug in less than two hours.

And then the Venturi Voltage electric sports car results from a partnership between Venturi and Michelin. It works through an advanced system of in-wheel electric motors. It offers an impressive capability of 320km on one charge, which takes it well beyond even the latest generation of electric cars.

Michelin, meanwhile, was showing off its own innovations, which, according to Prashant Prabhu, Michelin's president for Africa, India and the Middle East, would have particular importance for our region. The company is in the process of bringing to its production line one of the world's first self-repairing tyres, which can drive over nails without losing any pressure whatsoever.

What makes these energy-saving, self-repairing tyres different from ordinary run-flat tyres is that they are made with a unique rubber compound that immediately plugs holes in the tread.

In addition, they continue to deliver all the usual functions of a fully functional tyre, such as safety, total mileage and fuel efficiency. "Much of the damage done to tyres across the Middle East comes from the massive amount of debris on our roads," said Prabhu.

"Technology like this will have a direct impact on us in the Middle East - and it will add to sustainability because tyres will have to be replaced less often."

He did note, however, that far too little Middle Eastern innovation was on show in Berlin. "I was not satisfied with the participation by the Middle East," he said. "We want more representation in the future.

"It's true that the cost of fuel is low in the Gulf, and this affects all the arguments we make about efficiency. But the impact on the environment from cheap fuel is exactly the same as it is from expensive fuel and our challenge is to show that the environment is just as important for all countries and regions.

"We could quickly become the bad boys of the world, as our populations are low and we produce high CO2 per capita."

In spite of the Middle East's poor show, there were plenty of innovations that we may begin to see here. However, it is highly unlikely that we will witness the Renault Fluence taking part in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge in years to come.

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

The UAE squad for the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games

The jiu-jitsu men’s team: Faisal Al Ketbi, Zayed Al Kaabi, Yahia Al Hammadi, Taleb Al Kirbi, Obaid Al Nuaimi, Omar Al Fadhli, Zayed Al Mansoori, Saeed Al Mazroui, Ibrahim Al Hosani, Mohammed Al Qubaisi, Salem Al Suwaidi, Khalfan Belhol, Saood Al Hammadi.

Women’s team: Mouza Al Shamsi, Wadeema Al Yafei, Reem Al Hashmi, Mahra Al Hanaei, Bashayer Al Matrooshi, Hessa Thani, Salwa Al Ali.

Fifa Club World Cup:

When: December 6-16
Where: Games to take place at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi and Hazza bin Zayed Stadium in Al Ain
Defending champions: Real Madrid

Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Emergency phone numbers in the UAE

Estijaba – 8001717 –  number to call to request coronavirus testing

Ministry of Health and Prevention – 80011111

Dubai Health Authority – 800342 – The number to book a free video or voice consultation with a doctor or connect to a local health centre

Emirates airline – 600555555

Etihad Airways – 600555666

Ambulance – 998

Knowledge and Human Development Authority – 8005432 ext. 4 for Covid-19 queries

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

The stats and facts

1.9 million women are at risk of developing cervical cancer in the UAE

80% of people, females and males, will get human papillomavirus (HPV) once in their lifetime

Out of more than 100 types of HPV, 14 strains are cancer-causing

99.9% of cervical cancers are caused by the virus

A five-year survival rate of close to 96% can be achieved with regular screenings for cervical cancer detection

Women aged 25 to 29 should get a Pap smear every three years

Women aged 30 to 65 should do a Pap smear and HPV test every five years

Children aged 13 and above should get the HPV vaccine

The Details

Article 15
Produced by: Carnival Cinemas, Zee Studios
Directed by: Anubhav Sinha
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kumud Mishra, Manoj Pahwa, Sayani Gupta, Zeeshan Ayyub
Our rating: 4/5 


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