TOOELE, Utah — Michelin North America Inc. showed off two of its newest, most aggressive products recently at a land of extreme-a hot, wind-swept track outside Salt Lake City.
Temperatures topped 100°F and a dry wind was blowing across the tarmac in July at Miller Motorsports Park where the tire maker showcased its latest BFGoodrich ultra-high-performance passenger and off-road light truck tires.
The new g-Force Super Sport A/S is the first BFGoodrich Z speed-rated passenger radial to offer all-season traction, while the new Mud-Terrain T/AKM2 light truck tire provides drivers with serious off-road capability, according to the company.
Michelin threw the "kitchen sink" into the design of the new g-Force Super Sport A/S, Mark Ludlow, BFGoodrich product category manager said. "It´s the most advanced tire BFGoodrich has ever made."
To give the tire its all-season capability, the company´s engineers placed three different compounds side-by-side across the tread-one for dry traction, one for wet and one for snow, Ludlow said. This is like three tires in one, according to Michelin.
For grip in the wet and snow, the g-Force Super Sport A/S offers an aggressive tread pattern featuring deep, wide vertical grooves, swept-back Aqua Chute lateral grooves for water evacuation and what the company calls Snow-Hook tread blocks for "grab and go in the snow," Ludlow said.
For steering response, Michelin built the tire with a continuous center rib and a dimensionally stable polyester carcass ply featuring two full-width steel belts. Further enhancing handling is Michelin´s Performance Tension Containment System, a continuous single-strand, spiral-wrapped aramid fiber reinforcement under the tread.
The tire also is quiet, the company said, as a result of specific placement and sizing of tread blocks that reduce sound amplification.
Michelin has been developing this tire for the past two years, said Doug Brown, BFGoodrich brand category manager. Historically, he said, Z-rated products have been summer tires, but consumers in areas that get inclement weather want to be able to drive their cars more than just nine months out of the year. "So it was time for us to bring out this product."
The tire maker will begin shipping the g-Force Super Sport A/S to dealers in 29 sizes starting Oct. 1. The size range, from 205/50ZR15XL to 255/35ZR20 XL, provides 77-percent market coverage.
Along with the ultra fast g-Force Super Sport A/S, Michelin introduced what might be considered its counterpart, an aggressive light truck tire that´s as much at home climbing and descending hills and powering over rocks and boulders as rolling over smooth pavement.
The BFGoodrich Mud-Terrain T/AKM2 light truck tire was designed "from the mud up," the company said, and "is built to eclipse any obstacle-and any other tire-on the trail."
The newest Mud-Terrain was inspired by the BFGoodrich Krawler T/AKX, which Michelin called "the most successful tire in rock crawling history."
It features a tread inspired by the BFGoodrich Krawler T/A and has a beefed-up sidewall strength, thanks to sidewall cords that are 3-percent larger than the previous Mud-Terrain T/AKM tire, as well as aggressive sidewall lugs and cut- and chip-resistant sidewall compounds.
Michelin is targeting the Mud-Terrain T/AKM2 at the off-road specialty tire segment.
"These are enthusiasts who want the ultimate off-road experience and are willing to pay for it no matter what conditions they come across," the company said.
Michelin will introduce the Mud Terrain TAKM2 in two phases starting in September. With more off-roaders going bigger with their vehicles, the tire maker will introduce "the bigger, badder sizes first," said Kaz Holley, director of BFGoodrich, Uniroyal, private and associate brands. That means 16 initial sizes up to an overall tire and rim diameter of 40 to 42 inches.
A year later, Michelin plans to add another 18 sizes, giving the line a total of 34 sizes ranging from LT215/75R15 to 42x 14.50R20.