DETROIT (April 20, 2015) — Panelists at the recent 12th annual Michelin Challenge Design and Automotive Press Association focused on the development of transportation that provides simple, functional and affordable mobility for all areas of the world.
The event, held at the Detroit Athletic Club on April 15, worked off the theme of the 2016 Michelin Challenge Design: “Mobility for All — Designing for the Next Frontier.” The panel included Alexander Klatt, College for Creative Studies; Jason Wilbur, Honda R&D Americas Inc.; and Ben Ebel, Michelin North America Inc. Jason Stein, editor and publisher of Automotive News, a sister publication of Tire Business, moderated the panel, which addressed the relevancy and the need for flexible, ingenious, simple, easy-to-use and -repair mobility offerings for the next frontier.
“Just as the Citroen 2CV, Volkswagen Beetle and Ford Model T became iconic vehicles in their respective regions because they provided functional and affordable mobility, the challenge now is to create innovative design solutions for underserved areas in Southeast Asia, Central America, and Central Africa,” said Mr. Ebel, design coordinator, original equipment activities for Michelin and co-chairman of Michelin Challenge Design.
Mr. Wilbur, manager of Honda's Advanced Design Studio, said he wants to “design beyond just a car. I want to know what's next.
“A goal in advanced design is ‘how far out are you thinking?' Anything is possible to do if you take a risk and try something different. Building off of user needs and user experiences is so much greater and more necessary than building off of technology alone.
“The biggest challenge isn't technology, it's getting people to take risks and push limits.”
Greenville, S.C.-based Michelin said mobility is essential for personal transport, commerce, growth and access to clean water, heath care and services for people around the world. “Access to sustainable mobility is one of the cornerstones of economic and social progress, yet hundreds of millions of people have little or no access to mobility,” according to the company, adding that “local and regional cultures will play a key role in acceptance of various transportation offerings.”
“The need for mobility is embedded in us as we are not content in sitting in one spot,” said Mr. Klatt, chair of MFA Transportation Design and associate professor with the College for Creative Studies. “Costs are indeed relevant and materials are becoming more expensive.
“We need to find new materials and use solar, trees, bamboo and materials created of new matter. Depending on the area of the world, there will be local differences between materials. Our existing markets can learn from these emerging markets that come up with these solutions.”
The Michelin Challenge Design/Automotive Press Association forum is the first of several milestones in the Michelin Challenge Design initiative. Entries for the competition are due on June 1, and a panel of automotive designers will judge entries in late July.
Then winning entries will be displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2016.