NOTRE-DAME-DE-LA-MERCI, Quebec—When Michelin asked tire dealers and distributors what they wanted in the company's next winter tire, they said looks were everything.
The X-Ice Xi3, which debuted in 2012, was a very good tire—top ranked in its category with 4.5 out of 5 stars on TireRack.com—but they said it didn't look aggressive enough to sell in the showroom.
Though the focus group did say the new tire needed to maintain—and even improve upon—the performance of the X-Ice Xi3.
"Michelin listened to what they had to say and started with the look," said Sabrina Garofalo, a marketing manager at Michelin North America (Canada) Inc. "Then they brought in all of the engineering to maximize the performance."
What Michelin designed in the X-Ice Snow is a tire that looks the part, performs well and should give buyers an extra season of use, the company said.
When Michelin started designing the X-Ice Snow, they conducted focus groups with tire distributors, retailers and end users to get feedback for how the company could build a more complete snow tire.
Better bite, especially in deep snow; less noise on the highway; improved grip on ice; a longer tread life; and a look that draws customers in were among the top requests.
Tire dealers said the tire needed to look more aggressive than its predecessor, the X-Ice Xi3. The reason, they said, was because the sales window for winter tires in North America is so short—around eight weeks—the tire needs to stand out if it's going to sell.
Michelin North America Inc. unveiled the studless X-Ice Snow and the X-Ice North, a studded tire for Canada, at a media event in Saint-Sauveur, about 45 minutes north of Montreal on Feb. 26-28.
The X-Ice Snow eventually will be available in 123 sizes in North America. The X-Ice Snow tire replaces the X-Ice Xi3 and Latitude X-Ice Xi2 tire lines and will be available later this year in 82 sizes with speed ratings T and H for passenger vehicles, CUVs and SUVs using 14- to 22-inch rim diameters. An additional 41 sizes will be introduced in fall 2021, the company said.
The company added several new sizes, it said, mostly 18-inch and up rim diameters for SUV and CUV fitments.
Michelin said testing revealed that the X-Ice Snow tire features improved snow performance and braking as compared to the Xi3 and stops nearly 10 feet shorter on ice than a leading competitor—the Nokian Hakkappeliitta R3 SUV.
The tire will come with a 40,000-mile warranty, which the company believes should give users an extra season of use.
"The new Michelin X-Ice Snow tire is designed to give drivers peace of mind when driving in extreme winter conditions," said Sylvaine Cuniberti, Michelin Canada's marketing director. "We have an exceptional winter tire with a new tread design and innovative technologies, resulting in improved snow performance and leadership in ice braking.