By Bruce Davis, ERJ staff (TB)
Greenville, South Carolina -- Michelin North America Inc. passed a production milestone this week, turning out the 1 millionth X One wide-base single truck tyre 10 years after launching the product range for North American truckers.
Michelin executives declined to comment on how fast the company will reach 2 million, but the company did say sales this year are running nearly 50 percent ahead of last year. Ted Becker, vice president of marketing, Michelin Americas Truck Tires (MATT), said the increased sales are coming both from existing customers-who increasingly are spec'ing new equipment with the wide-base singles-and from new customers.
Independently, representatives of trucking fleets and vehicle makers, who attended a Sept. 30 ceremony in Greenville marking the production milestone, indicated the pace of acceptance is increasing rapidly. Michelin now has seven X One models available for various trailer positions and applications.
Michelin Americas Truck Tires COO Francois Corbin declined to quantify what Michelin invested in developing and bringing the X One to market, noting that the company's investment has been on several levels, from basic research to developing and commissioning X One-specific tyre assembly equipment.
Michelin makes the X One at plants in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and Waterville, Nova Scotia.
Corbin also noted that Michelin's investment in developing the Michelin Retread Technology (MRT) retreading system and building an MRT service network has been instrumental in the X One's acceptance and growth.
The tyre maker points to several reasons why the X One has gained acceptance, including the product's ability to save truckers fuel through lowered rolling resistance and reduced weight vs. dual tyres, the ability to increase payloads, the reduced complexity of inventory management and enhanced safety through more vehicle stability.
A key to the product's success, according to the company, technically is the â€œInfinicoilâ€ layer-a spriral-wound longitudinal layer of steel wire that provides stability, reduces casing distortions and lengthens casing life.
Michelin said it continues to develop the concept, working on rubber compounds that promise even lower rolling resistance, more efficient tread patterns that could allow the company to extend tread life, stronger casings and lighter designs.
Michelin's X One lineup in North America consists of seven lines:
- XDA Energy, a drive tyre launched March 2010, considered the most fuel-efficient offering in the X One range;
- XDN2, a drive tyre;
- XTA, trailer tyre;
- XTE, trailer tyre for regional applications;
- XZY3, for on-/off-road applications;
- XZU3, for urban, high-scruff applications; and
- XRV, for recreational vehicles.
Michelin also offers five retreads through the MRT network.