Posted on April 16, 2015

Michelin Challenge Design Inspires Mobility for All

Design Experts Identify Challenges and Opportunities in ‘Designing for the Next Frontier’

DETROIT, April 16, 2015 – Designing transportation that provides simple, functional and affordable mobility for all areas of the world was the focus of the 12th annual Michelin Challenge Design and Automotive Press Association design panel held at the Detroit Athletic Club on Wednesday.

Based on the 2016 Michelin Challenge Design theme, “Mobility for All – Designing for the Next Frontier,” the distinguished panel included Alexander Klatt, College for Creative Studies; Jason Wilbur, Honda R&D Americas, Inc.; and Ben Ebel, Michelin North America. The panelists addressed the relevancy and the need for flexible, ingenious, simple, easy to use and repair mobility offerings for the next frontier. The discussion was moderated by Jason Stein, Editor and Publisher, Automotive News.

“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 Ben Ebel, design coordinator, original equipment activities, Michelin North America, and co-chairman of Michelin Challenge Design.

“I want to design beyond just a car. I want to know what’s next,” said Jason Wilbur, manager, Advanced Design Studio, Honda R&D. “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.”

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. 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 Alexander Klatt, chair of MFA Transportation Design and Associate Professor, 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 are due on June 1. A distinguished panel of automotive designers will judge the entries in late July. Then winning entries from the competition will be displayed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2016.

Be the first to comment.
Leave a Comment


About Michelin North America

Michelin, the leading mobility company, is working with tires, around tires and beyond tires to enable Motion for Life. Dedicated to enhancing its clients’ mobility and sustainability, Michelin designs and distributes the most suitable tires, services and solutions for its customers’ needs. Michelin provides digital services, maps and guides to help enrich trips and travels and make them unique experiences. Bringing its expertise to new markets, the company is investing in high-technology materials, 3D printing and hydrogen, to serve a wide variety of industries — from aerospace to biotech. Headquartered in Greenville, South Carolina, Michelin North America has approximately 22,500 employees and operates 34 production facilities in the United States and Canada. (