MONTREAL, QUE. Michelin is getting ready to launch a new regional drive tire on July 1 that it expects will trump its previous regional drive tires and be more in line with what fleets want.
Ralph Dimenna, COO of Michelin Americas, truck tires, told Fleet Owner during Michelin’s "Movin On" mobile sustainability event in Montreal the new tire is an effort to reclaim some share in a part of the market where it hasn’t quite delivered the optimal product for fleets.
“There is a 60% to 65% increase in longevity and a real big upgrade in traction, which is where we kind of had a problem," Dimenna said about the tire. "We’ve had a very low fuel-economy tire, but the traction hasn’t been what the market wanted. But we have a great increase in traction on this new product.”
The new tire will contain radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which the company said it would add to each of its truck tires to provide better tire life data to its fleet customers. RFID tags allow fleets to better track their tire assets and better understand the lifecycle of their tire casings.
“We are starting to see some fleets that are starting to think more about how they are going to use [RFID tags] and how it can help them improve their operations and improve their overall cost of doing business,” Dimenna noted. “That’s the exciting part about the RFID – it really changes the conversation from just ‘what product do I have, but to how is that product helping me manage my business better.’ ”
During a separate press conference, Serge Lafon, executive vice president of the truck product line at Michelin, explained that within two to three years, all Michelin tires will include RFID tags. Not only do the tags trace tire pressure and determine when a tire needs to be replaced, but they also can be used to exonerate a fleet and prove proper maintenance has been done if the need arises, Lafon said.
“When a fleet – a coach fleet, for example that carriers passengers – is in an accident they have to prove the fleet has been maintained and repaired properly,” Lafon explained. This, he said, is when data from RFID tags becomes essential.
Lafon also mentioned that Michelin is developing a mobile app for its Michelin Tire Care service, which was launched in 2015 and is designed to assist fleets in identifying tire issues that lead to downtime, low mileage, high fuel costs and safety risks.
And when it comes to emissions reduction and fuel efficiency efforts, Dimenna told Fleet Owner that though Michelin is watching future greenhouse gas (GHG) emission requirements, the company tries not to predict the regulatory front.
“We understand that fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions are top of mind for many fleets,” he explained. “We think it’s long term, not a conversation that’s going to change. Whether there’s any change in the short-term or any timing of regulations, I’d say that’s a secondary question. We want to be a leader in that space. We think it’s important to our customers, it’s important to the Michelin brand to be a leader in terms of fuel economy, and it’s important to our business on the commercial truck side as well that we can combine exceptional fuel economy with the other attributes that are important to fleets.”
Regarding some of the main challenges in the heavy-duty trucking industry, such as driver retention and freight rates, Dimenna said Michelin is trying to better understand those issues for its customers when determining the type of product and services it releases.
And when it comes to sustainable mobility, Dimenna said it is no longer a movement, but an expectation.
“I think regardless of market, we hear the same thing everywhere we go: People are concerned about the impact we are having on this planet,” he noted. “We want to be a durable partner and make sure we are a thought leader and actionable leader in the way we treat our responsibility to the environment.”