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Michelin broadcasts fuel savings, supports rolling resistance legislation

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Each second of each minute of each hour of each day, 11.6 gallons of fuel are saved and 240.6 pounds of CO2 are not released into the atmosphere thanks to Groupe Michelin's "green" energy-saving tires, the company says.

And now Michelin has a way to tell this to the world.

The company has begun projecting information on fuel savings and reductions in CO2 emissions due to its green tire technology (that was introduced by Michelin in 1992) on electronic "meters."

These real-time counters are broadcast at 7 p.m. local time on the NASDAQ and Reuters boards in Times Square in New York City; on the facade of the Park Inn Hotel in Berlin; in the Port de Suffren at the foot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris; and on the City Group Mansion tower, across from the Bund, in Shanghai.

Michelin estimates that over the last 15 years, the 570 million energy-saving tires the company has sold worldwide have reduced fuel consumption by 2.38 billion gallons, resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions of 25 million tons, the equivalent of the amount absorbed by 880 million trees in one year.

"We cannot change the world alone, but with the collective help of many, we certainly can make a positive difference," said Jim Micali, chairman and president of Michelin North America Inc., at a press conference unveiling the green meters in Times Square.

"Michelin is aggressively tackling the challenge of tire-related energy consumption, and therefore the issue of C02 emissions for all road vehicles."

Micali said 20% of the energy needed to operate a car is due to tires, and for commercial trucks, it may be 30% or more. This is due to rolling resistance.

The company's green energy-saving tires, which have silica in the tire compound, deliver better grip and have 20% less rolling resistance, he said.

The latest addition to the Michelin green energy-saving tires was introduced last month in Europe, the Michelin Energy Saver. In North America, the company has introduced the X One wide single tire.

A single truck with Michelin X One tires can save up to 80 gallons of fuel each month, said Micali. He said there are more than a half a million X One tires on the roads in the United States; and, collectively these tires have already saved 15 million gallons of fuel and have reduced CO2 emissions by more than 165 thousand tons.

Micali said that over the next two decades, Michelin will "dramatically improve tire performance in three crucial areas:

* "We will double tire wear life in order to reduce the amount of raw materials needed by half.

* "Michelin will reduce tire rolling resistance for passenger car tires by an additional 50%.

* "We will also substantially reduce braking distance in order to enhance safety.

"Michelin's objective is to ensure that by the time the number of vehicles worldwide doubles, the total tire-related consumption of fuel and raw materials for each such vehicle will be halved."

Michelin is "committed to clearly communicating to consumers the difference in tire fuel economy performance and is leading the effort to establish legislation and government regulations in each country to create fuel economy labeling for car and truck tires -- similar to the current system already in place for vehicles," Micali said.

The company is "aggressively supporting rolling resistance legislation pending before the U.S. Congress that would require the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to implement an information program to give consumers for the first time the ability to know and compare rolling resistance performance characteristics at the point-of-sale. This rolling resistance information translates directly into fuel economy and will allow consumers to choose the most fuel efficient tires for their vehicles."

He added that Michelin also is "working with the state of California to implement regulations, already passed by the state legislature, requiring a rolling resistance grading system for tires sold in the state. This labeling system could be in place in California as early as 2009."

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