Almost Half-a-Billion Tires and Counting: A Michelin Plant Celebrates 70 Years

Oct. 24, 2016

A Michelin North America Inc. plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. is celebrating 70 years of tire manufacturing. Originally constructed to produce material for the war effort, the plant manufactured its first tire on Oct. 23, 1946, and has since produced nearly 490 million BFGoodrich tires.

To celebrate this milestone, BFGoodrich has established a consumer promotion in West Alabama: Throughout October, a purchase of a full set of BFGoodrich Tires (4) through independent local dealers within 50 miles of the Tuscaloosa site will qualify the buyer for a $50 Mastercard gift card.

Comprising more than 1.6 million square feet of manufacturing space, the BFGoodrich tire production facility in Tuscaloosa has supported many “firsts” in the brand’s industry:

  • first tubeless tire in the United States;
  • BFGoodrich manufactures the first American-made radial tire, the Lifesaver Radial T/A;
  • launch of BFGoodrich Radial T/A, revolutionized muscle car performance tires as first low aspect-ratio tire;
  • first American-made passenger car tire certified for racing, the BFGoodrich Radial T/A;
  • first radial all-terrain tire built in the U.S., the BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A;
  • America’s first V-rated tire, the BFGoodrich Comp T/A;
  • first light-truck radial mud tire, the BFGoodrich Mud Terrain T/A;
  • first tires for NASA’s space shuttle
  • first purpose-built off-road radial desert race tire, the BFGoodrich Baja T/A; and
  • first American-made tire selected as original equipment on a Porsche, the BFGoodrich Comp T/A.

“Our BFGoodrich facility in Tuscaloosa has been on the leading edge of tire innovation and performance for decades,” says Scott Clark, chief operating officer for Michelin North America. “We’re proud to celebrate the dedication of the employees in Tuscaloosa who are responsible for producing some of the most iconic tires ever made for racing, recreation and passenger vehicles.”

The Tuscaloosa plant currently employs approximately 1,400 people and operates on a 24-by-7 schedule to manufacture tires and produce semi-finished materials, such as uncured rubber and associated materials needed for tire construction. 

More than 488 million BFGoodrich-brand tires have been built in Tuscaloosa, enough to equip more than 122 million vehicles over the last 70 years. BFGoodrich Tires have travelled more than 1.28 trillion miles on passenger vehicles — or the equivalent of traveling between Earth and Jupiter 1,000 times, or circling the Earth more than 51 million times (based on average of 10,500 miles driven per year).

From its start and through the Michelin acquisition of BFGoodrich Tires in 1990, the plant has continued to produce passenger car, light truck, and motorsports racing tires. Michelin recently announced a 67,000 square foot expansion of the warehouse department at the Tuscaloosa plant.

In addition to many historic industry firsts, the Tuscaloosa site is distinguished by its production of competition tires as well. These accomplishments include the first street-legal drag-racing tire, the first street radial tire to compete at the storied 24 Hours of LeMans in France, the first passenger-car tire to defeat pure race tires, and a total of 86 overall wins in the SCORE Baja desert racing series.

The plant plays an integral role in the Tuscaloosa community, donating more than $175,000 to charitable causes in the area while also supporting many local school programs. It was one of the first businesses to become an Adopt-A-School partner in Tuscaloosa and it continues its commitment to workforce development through sponsorship and involvement in programs such as the recently held West Alabama Worlds of Work (WOW) Career Expo.

The plant’s estimated economic impact to West Alabama was more than $145 million in 2015. 

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