Saving the Planet: Michelin's Senard Goes to the Sun and Back

Bob Ulrich
Posted on February 9, 2017
"Our industry is one of the most sustainable industries," said Michelin's Jean-Dominique Senard.
"Our industry is one of the most sustainable industries," said Michelin's Jean-Dominique Senard.

When Groupe Michelin CEO Jean-Dominique Senard officially introduced the Pilot Sport 4 S at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, he talked about the tire's improved performance over the company's previous flagship tire, the Pilot Super Sport.

He emphasized how the tire was "directly descended from the tires that are engineered from the track," yet was backed by a 30,000-mile limited tread wear warranty. And he boasted of the company's strong commitment to original equipment, with at least 66 global OE fitments for the Pilot Sport 4 S under development -- that in addition to already announced fitments on a Ferrari, two Mercedes and a Koenigsegg.

As it turns out, that may have been the small picture, at least in Michelin's eyes. To Senard, sustainable mobility was the big picture.

If a no-carbon footprint proves impossible, then the lowest carbon footprint possible is Michelin's ultimate goal.

"Low rolling resistance is so important," he said in Detroit. “Did you know that one tank of fuel in every five is consumed by the tire’s rolling resistance? And that increases to one tank in three for heavy trucks."

That is why he talked about Michelin's Energy line of tires, now in its sixth generation.

“Since the first energy tire, Michelin has further improved rolling resistance more than 25%," he said. "In fuel economy terms, this innovation has saved the equivalent of more than 550 round trips between the earth and the sun. Can you imagine?"

Wow. That totals more than 102 billion miles!

And there are more improvements from the company to come: Michelin invests more than $680 million annually in global research.

Senard also said Michelin believes passenger tires should be removed at 2/32nds of an inch in the U.S., in contrast to the also popular view they should be removed at 4/32-inch. He listed the following reasons:

* It saves on raw materials.

* It saves on energy in manufacturing.

* It saves motorists a considerable amount of money.

"Replacing worn tires at 4/32nds of an inch, for example, would cost a driver approximately one extra tire per car every two years."

Can you imagine?

Related Topics: 2017 NAIAS, B.O.B., flagship tire, Jean-Dominique Senard, Michelin Energy Saver, Michelin Pilot Sport 4S, OE tires, sustainability

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