As the hosts of the Challenge Bibendum
, Michelin took a bit of time in Rio de Janiero to allow the company's three managing partners (the company's leaders, as it does not have a CEO) to talk about why the 10th running of the eco-event was important and took questions from the assembled journalists and attendees. A lot of the talk centered around the company's efforts to expand sales in developing countries and safety issues, but one of Michelin's three managing partners said something about the company's expectations for the plug-in vehicle market in the next decade that is worth repeating here. He said, through a translator (emphasis added):
We do see a long life for combustion engines, because a long time will have to go by until alternative solutions can replace this technology. Apparently, electric engines in 2020 will account for five percent of world production but currently the car assembly plants are improving the economy of internal combustion engines so they will emit a lot less CO2, be it due to the development of new ignition technologies or the addition of gasoline to biofuels. We see for the coming years a number of solutions which will co-exist.
Now, five percent of the market in 2020 is less than some predict
and more than others
. Given the fairly impartial role that Michelin plays in this – they'll make tires for anyone – we wonder if this middle-of-the-road number shouldn't be considered the best prediction we have today.