The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
Michelin has a long and proud history and was of some surprise to learn a few things about the brand. When it comes to their background Michelin have an enviable technical prowess that has been developed over many decades which puts them at the forefront of technology.
By way of example Michelin supplied tyres to the space shuttle. It’s when one starts to understand that there are other markets besides our 911s and high performance vehicles to be considered that one begins to appreciate the scale that the company spans. From those massive mining 300 tonner trucks that shift mountains of material around like it was child’s play to airplanes. All manner of commercial vehicles from busses to light to heavy trucks – the chances are that if you can name it Michelin will have a tyre for it.
It started way back when though with inventions surround tyres as we know them today. Michelin invented the removable tyre which at the time, was an innovation that changed the world. So too were things like street signs, and destination maps, also all Michelin innovations that prompted travel and thus demand for their product. The Michelin star for restaurants? Another first and not as far away from tyres as you might first suspect. Michelin’s rationale was of course that you needed to get to these hallowed institutions of gastronomy to begin with and the chances of you making use of their product along the way was therefore pretty good.
Locally the likelihood is that for most of us petrolheads Michelin is synonymous with performance motoring at 18″ and above, with the likes of the famous Pilot Sport range adoring exotics like the 911 GT3RS that was doing hot laps at the Festival of Motoring in Johannesburg recently.
Shod as it was with the Pilot Sport Cup 2, the competitive performance tyre is shown in the already excellent levels of grip with nowhere being more apparent than in hard braking. It is difficult to subjectively assess grip as a passenger in sideways adherence but in a straight line it is much easier to sense. And the rate at which these tyres are able to pull the big 911 beast to an almost dead stop is nothing short of eye extending, almost literally. It’s a phenomenal tyre and it is a direct result of Michelin’s high-tech approach to the tyre lifecycle. Because it’s about more than just making tyres, of course. Michelin aims for carbon neutrality in its production cycle, even through to recycling of the tyre which is now a big focus for the company.
It’s also not only about high performance cars and their tyres. We drove electric vehicles on the Pilot Sport EV version of a tyre that has been engineered to cater for the unique stresses and strains that EVs exert on tyres – which is perfectly obvious once pointed out. EVs accelerate differently, they are generally much heavier and their braking forces are also somewhat different with aggressive regen having an effect on tyre wear. It stands to reason then that an EV tyre will have differing needs to that of a ‘conventional’ tyre.
We are thus going to be seeing a lot from Michelin in the future. Quite frankly it would be extremely satisfying to take delivery of a set of Pilot Sport Cup 2Rs. Wrapped in a nice pretty 911 please. In yellow. Of course.
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