How much testing goes into the development of a new Michelin commercial vehicle tyre?
All new tyres we produce go through the same ‘design loop’. This first involves understanding customer needs, materials research, modelling and simulation, tyre design and architecture, extensive testing and measuring, and then preparation for manufacturing.
What has been the biggest innovation in Michelin truck tyres in recent years?
One of the biggest innovations we’ve seen has been the launch of our X Multi Energy range, which is just about the perfect tyre for operators in the UK.
Traditionally, low rolling resistance ‘Energy’ tyres have been aimed at long-distance fleets where the bulk of the job is on trunk roads at sustained high average speeds. They were perfect for operators on the continent, but there wasn’t a huge market for them in the UK.
That’s all been turned on its head with the expanding X Multi Energy range, which is both Michelin’s and the industry’s first fuel-saving tyre for regional and national haulage operations. It’s the perfect fitment for fleets which want the benefits of low rolling resistance, but which must also cope with roundabouts and stop/start operations in towns and city centres.
Fuel saving and reducing emissions are so important to fleets at the moment. How do Michelin’s products help operators achieve this?
This isn’t purely a focus area for fleets; it’s often just as important to a fleet’s own customers too. They are increasingly choosing logistics partners committed to reducing their environmental impact. Vehicle manufacturers also need to find ways to reduce their VECTO scores, which is a measure of a truck’s CO2 output, and often the simplest way of doing this is to fit more efficient tyres.
Put simply, the positive impact of moving from a C- to a B-rated tyre for fuel efficiency, or a B to an A-rated tyre can be significant – with improved fuel economy translating directly into CO2 savings and a lower VECTO score. Manufacturers are well aware of this, and we’re finding truck dealers are increasingly having conversations with their customers around more efficient tyre choice.
Sustainability is such a big consideration now too – how are tyre manufacturers contributing to that?
One of the conversations we are increasingly having with our customers is about making them aware of the multiple lives built into our truck, bus and coach tyres. You might think every tyre manufacturer just wants to sell more tyres but we actually work with customers to ensure they need to fit as few new tyres as possible.
Take a brand-new Michelin fitment for example. It’s designed to deliver a long first life in service, but can then be regrooved, re-treaded and finally regrooved again – helping to deliver multiple lives in service. A Remix tyre will give virtually the same level of performance and wear as a brand-new tyre, albeit the cost is around 30% less. Fitting a Remix tyre also reduces the waste sent for recycling by around 50kg per tyre, as it uses 70% fewer raw materials in the manufacturing process.
Does Michelin have tyres specifically designed for electric commercial vehicles?
Earlier this year, we launched our first range of electric bus tyres – the Michelin X InCity EV Z. The new tyres offer excellent safety, longevity and load capacity, while helping operators to lessen their environmental footprint by reducing rolling resistance – key to maximising range for EVs.
Plus, many of our regular products are also ideally suited for electric vehicles too, although operators need to think carefully about the intended use of the vehicle in exactly the same way they should for a fossil-fuel powered truck.