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2007 Detroit Auto Show: Sharing the Road: International Collection of Safety Concept Vehicles Featured in Michelin Challenge Design(TM) Exhibit


The following is the final feature in a four-part transportation design safety series

GREENVILLE, S.C., Jan. 4 -- Concept vehicles are designed to inspire. Most are created to whet the appetite of the car-buying public (and the automotive press corps) for what might be coming down the road in a few years, whether it's advanced technology and special features or new vehicle architectures and designs.

Concept vehicles are the highlight of the major international auto shows, including the 2007 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit Jan. 7-21.

In addition to automakers' visions of the future, a special attraction at NAIAS is the debut of an international collection of concept vehicle designs for making the roads a safer place. These vehicles are part of the Michelin Challenge Design(TM) exhibit ( in Michigan Hall.

"Concept vehicles press the limits of what's possible, stretching to the edges of exotic materials and new technologies and architectures," says Stewart Reed, chairman of transportation design studies at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and chairman of the Michelin Challenge Design jury. He adds that some concepts are so advanced, so exotic that that many people cannot grasp them until they see a model. Then, suddenly, they too can visualize the potential.

Each year, Michelin offers a challenge to designers around the world to create vehicle concepts around a central theme. For 2007, that theme was enhancement of safety -- "Sharing the Road" -- in North America. Potential solutions were submitted by more than 250 people from 51 countries.

A panel of leading vehicle designers, educators and safety experts met to consider the entries. The best submissions have been worked up into two- and three-dimensional concepts for display at NAIAS.

"It's like [former Chrysler design director] Tom Gale told me several years ago, if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a three-dimensional model must be worth a thousand pictures," adds Reed.

In addition to the 30 Michelin Challenge Design entries, several safety- oriented concepts developed by major transportation companies will be on display - the Volvo 3CC Safety Car, the Honda Civic ACE Body Structure, the Revolver from Polaris Industries, Inc., and the BeeVan from Volvo Trucks North America.

In addition, the first full-scale concept by a Michelin Challenge Design entrant will be presented in the form of Slovenian-born designer Uros Pavasovic's Fiat Scratch.

Like the vehicles at the Michelin Challenge Design display, through the years various automakers and others have presented safety-oriented concept vehicles. Some have led to significant advances. Others have been perhaps more whimsical exercises.

For more information about the Michelin Challenge Design program, the 2007 entries and a historical look at safety concept cars, visit