ATLANTA. As part of its “corporate mission” to foster “sustainable improvements” to the “mobility of people and goods,” Michelin North Americas Truck Tires is adding a new wide-base model to its X One line of truck and trailer tires. It is also introducing a new five-piece aerodynamic kit for 53-ft. dry van and refrigerated trailers that the company said can help improve overall tractor-trailer fuel economy by up to 7.4%.
“When we think about the mission of our company – ‘the sustainable improvement to the mobility of people and goods’ – we don’t day anything specific to tires. Our mission is broader than tires it’s about bringing solutions to mobility to the market,” Adam Murphy, vice president of marketing, during a press conference here at the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) 2018 annual meeting.
“In many cases, those mobility solutions are tires, but in many cases, they are not – and expect to see more and more about ‘non-tire’ solutions going forward,” he added. “Safety and fuel efficiency are implicit in that.”
Yet one of its first efforts as part of Michelin’s overall “mobility improvement” focus will be a tire; the new X One Line Grip D, a wide base drive tire designed to offer better traction in the snow. Murphy added that the Line Grip D – which will be available May 1 – is also part of an effort to “revitalize” Michelin’s X One wide-base tire portfolio, which has been on the market for 16 to 17 years now.
The X One Line Grip D features a “three peak mountain snowflake” or 3PMSF designation for use in severe snow conditions, with its wide open shoulder grooves helping deliver all-weather traction, Michelin noted. Available in 445/50R22.5 and 455/55R22.5 sizes, this new X One drive tire meets SmartWay requirements and allows fleets to carry 389 pounds of additional payload versus dual-wheel applications. The tire maker added that replacing its X One XDN2 with the Line Grip D and its enhanced tread compound can boost estimated annual fuel savings of $550, based on estimated fuel price of $2.99 per gallon.
“We are renewing commitment to the benefits [wide base] tires bring,” Murphy said. “Clearly, the X One is focused on helping fleets reduce costs – save fuel, save weight, save time, and save maintenance. The X One Line Grip D is for dry van, reefer, and tanker fleets, but ones in longer hauls will see the most benefit. It’s for fleets that value protecting drivers and cargo while minimizing total cost of ownership.”
Michelin’s second “mobility” endeavor is a SmartWay-verified five-piece aerodynamic trailer solution kit dubbed the Michelin Energy Guard for use on 53-ft. dry van and refrigerated trailers operating in long-haul and super-regional applications.
Consisting of a resilient trailer skirt, trailer-end fairings, aerodynamic mud flaps and a wake reducer, the integrated trailer aero kit eliminates the need for “boat tails” and that can deliver up to a 7.4% improvement in overall tractor-trailer fuel economy – a figure based on the price of diesel fuel set at $3 a gallon.
The patent-pending package features a trailer skirt with a flexible design that “folds” out of the way if it strikes an obstacle or debris, while the trailer-end fairings direct airflow to the back of the trailer. The wake reducer minimizes the effect of the recirculation zone behind the trailer, while the aerodynamic mud flaps reduce vehicle drag and road spray.
“Though 32% of the ‘aerodynamic impact’ on a tractor-trailer is related to tires, another 53% is lost for aerodynamic reasons. So we said, ‘Can we do something for aerodynamics for fleets as comparable to all the hard work we’ve done for low rolling resistance on tires’? Because aerodynamic solutions can also be a massive pain fleets, with total cost of ownership affected by increased maintenance costs or by drivers either not fully utilizing the technologies or finding them too intrusive. In their work day,” Murphy said.
Company experts on hand at the press event said the overall weight added to a 53-ft. trailer from the Michelin Energy Guard aero kit is less than 280 lbs., with the pricing of the package set at a 10% to 15% premium versus other aerodynamic packages in the market. It will be available June 1 to fleets, Murphy noted.
“We’re starting with 53-ft. trailers as they are the biggest market segment, but we are looking at different trailer applications and uses for the Michelin Energy Guard,” he added.