Shanghai, China [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Automotive technology has come a long way from the first rubber tires that replaced wood wheels to alternative fuels and hybrid engines.The 6th annual Challenge Bibendum, organized every year by the Michelin tire company, brought together the largest players of the automotive industry along with government representatives from many countries around the world, and promoted the latest technology in sustainable road mobility. This year’s challenge was held in Shanghai, China because of the economic growth and environmental concerns in the county as its 1.3 billion people move toward a society that is ever more reliant on automobiles. While most companies use the event as a showcase for new technologies, General Motors China announced a joint hybrid bus program with the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation Group (SAIC). “The hybrid bus project represents one of the first concrete steps being taken jointly by GM and SAIC in the promotion of fuel-efficient and environmentally clean transportation. GM’s strategy is to initially apply hybrid technology in high-volume and high fuel-consumption vehicles such as mass transit buses. Our hybrid bus project will help Shanghai explore alternatives that have the potential to greatly impact its public transportation system,” said Phil Murtaugh, Chairman and CEO of the General Motors China Group. The joint hybrid bus program will employ a hybrid powertrain developed by GM’s Allison Transmission Division that uses dual electric motors to launch the bus from a stop, and regenerative braking to capture energy in an advanced battery system. It will be packaged in a bus manufactured by Sunwin, SAIC’s bus joint venture in Shanghai. There are currently about 17,000 buses in operation in Shanghai. Each runs an average of 155 miles (250 kilometers) per day. A 30 percent improvement in fuel economy could result in savings of 12 tons of fuel per vehicle per year. GM and SAIC will jointly produce one hybrid bus for commercial evaluation in the primary stage of the program. The partners will then leverage real-world in-use data to study the feasibility of mass-producing the hybrid bus for Shanghai and China. “We are focusing first on buses because of their importance to China’s public transportation system and because they consume greater amounts of fuel,” Hu Maoyuan, President of SAIC said. Electric cars are a big focus of research in China, as are hybrid technologies and hydrogen. Many concept cars that were presented focused on hybrid and all-electric vehicles. New lithium batteries have helped to increase the range of such cars for total ranges up to 400 km. This technological progress has facilitated the design of vehicles that feature acceleration on par with top sports cars while reducing emissions pollution. China made a significant contribution to electric car demonstrations with several vehicles developed by universities. Attendees also included representatives from the government of the People’s Republic of China and from the City of Shanghai. Representatives from such institutions as the French Ministry of Transport, the European Commission, F?d?ration Internationale de l’Automobile, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, United Nations Environment Program, and Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport will also attend. Challenge Bibendum has become a forum for industry, policymakers and experts to review the latest technologies and progress made in the area of alternative energies. The challenge serves as a testing ground and a showcase for concept cars featuring technologies often never unveiled before. Challenge Bibendum has contributed to the rise of environmentally friendly technologies since its creation in 1998 as the 100-year anniversary of the Michelin’s sales icon Bibendum, also known as the Michelin Man.