It's no secret that the tire industry is evolving quickly.
An industry evolving: 3 tire trends Michelin's embracing
Emerging automotive technology remains one of the biggest drivers of that change, but consumers are changing the game, too. They're gravitating toward bigger, heavier vehicles—both electric and internal combustion engine—and asking for products that are kinder for the planet.
During an International Media Day event hosted at its Cuneo, Italy, plant, Michelin addressed some of these trends and emphasized how it is working to meet the changing needs of the auto industry and its stakeholders.
Here's a look at 3 emerging trends Michelin's addressing.
When it comes to vehicles, consumers have a preference. And it's not the sedan.
They like bigger vehicles. Heavier vehicles.
According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, light trucks accounted for nearly 80 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2022. And when it came to light vehicles, crossovers proved to be the dominant segment, making up 45.2 percent of those new vehicle sales.
So, Americans like bigger, fancier cars.
And they're not the only ones. Across the globe, demand for larger-rim diameter tires is growing.
So, Michelin is responding as it always does. With the full weight of its technology and innovation. It's designing more durable, fuel-efficient tires that meet the needs of today's bigger, heavier vehicles.
And it's doing so with sustainability top of mind.
"Innovation fuels our growth, literally," Alexis Garcin, Michelin North America chairman and president, told reporters during a media roundtable in February. "And I can say that Michelin has been on the forefront of innovation since its inception."
For today's tires, that sustainable innovation takes root in rolling resistance. And it's a performance property that Michelin has been working to perfect for more than three decades.
"(In 1992, we) launched the first so-called 'green' tire," Garcin said. "That was the first time that we were able to introduce the first rolling-resistance-optimized tire. That tire, in 1992, was able to reduce the gas consumption of cars because we could reduce the rolling resistance."
All of that expertise will be critical as Michelin moves forward with its mission to create more sustainable products—that is tires made with more renewable, recyclable and sustainably sourced materials. And those tires, Michelin said, also must contribute more sustainably to mobility—and circularity—throughout their service lives.
That, of course, means rolling out more fuel-efficient products, a performance attribute to which rolling resistance contributes.
In 2021 alone, Michelin said its rolling resistance technology allowed for its tires to save almost 9 billion gallons of fuel throughout their service lives. And in doing so, the tire maker said, those tires reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 8.7 million metric tons compared to 2010.
As mobility evolves—especially around electrification and autonomy—the need for tires that demonstrate optimal rolling resistance only increases.
To ensure the optimal performance of its tires as electric vehicle fitments, Michelin is designing products by focusing on four key performance areas:
- Rolling resistance;
- Load capacity; and
- Noise reduction.
With no engine humming in the background, electric vehicles make for quiet rides. And given the power and torque they generate, their tires have to be a different breed. Namely, the strong, silent type.
Michelin estimates that as much as 70 percent of the sound generated by EVs comes from driving and not the vehicle itself. That means finding and implementing technologies that reduce the overall noise the tires contribute.
Already, Michelin has introduced several tires designed to address the needs of EVs—tires that offer quieter, more efficient rides. But none fit EVs quite like the Pilot Sport EV, which Garcin said checks all the boxes for EV performance.
"That tire, that is specifically designed for electric vehicles, is able to improve the range of the car by up to 37 miles, and—at the same time—reduce the noise by 20 percent," Garcin said. "And that is the way, again, to contribute to a better mobility, but in the end, make the tire an even more important piece of the car than it is today."
Something is happening in Europe, at least when it comes to tire preference. Yes, European consumers are starting to think a little more like their North American counterparts.
They're gravitating to all-season tires.
"The all-season tire, long shunned by drivers on this continent, has seen a remarkable success in Europe, with sales multiplied threefold over the last few years," Michelin said in a statement.
And sales of all-season tires are likely to continue to grow. The French tire maker projects that, throughout the next five years, the segment will grow another 11 percent.
Why? The economy, the climate and the changing auto industry.
Michelin contends that the growth of all-season tire sales in Europe is driven in part by climate change, which brings unpredictable snowy weather. With all-season tires, drivers are better able to manage the change in road conditions.
And it could be better for their wallets, too, given that they only have to purchase one set of tires.
But mobility is changing, too, Michelin said. The emergence of vehicle fleets presents great opportunities for all-season tires, for their ease of use and affordability.
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