Founded in 1888, Michelin tires are one of the largest tire manufacturers worldwide. A French company, Michelin’s headquarters are located in Clermont-Ferrand, France and ranks as the second largest tire company with Bridgestone coming in first. Part of what makes Michelin one of the top tire companies is that it owns a series of tire lines that are distributed throughout North America. These tires brands include Uniroyal ad BF Goodrich. Another aspect that has put Michelin in the lead amongst tire companies is that they have a vast amount of products. For example, in addition to vehicles and trucks, Michelin tires are found on motorcycles, bicycles, airplanes and other aircraft, and space shuttles. In fact, unlike some other tire companies, Michelin had its start by creating tires for bicycles.
Brothers, Edouard and Andre Michelin, began by designing an air (pneumatic) tire for a bicycle. In 1891, the tire they destined was used in the Paris-Brest-Paris race and the rider, Charles Terront, won first place. From there, the brothers continued to work on tires and new designs. Over a century later, Michelin is still associated with innovative techniques and scientific breakthroughs.
Michelin tires are sold worldwide and the company sells other products and services, in addition to tires. Some of the other products sold include travel services, lifestyle products, Michelin Engineering and Services Innovation and more. Michelin also has a strong presence in motorsports and the tires are frequently seen during various auto races.
What might be most interesting about the Michelin tire story is that Edouard Michelin and his wife had been inventing products for more than 50 years before the launch of the company’s tires. In 1820, Edourard Michelin and his wife Elizabeth Pugh Barker had invented and manufactured a line of rubber balls for children. Elizabeth Pugh Barker was the niece of the French scientist, Macintosh, who made scientific discoveries regarding rubber’s solubility.
In 1900, Michelin released their first Michelin Red Guide, which proved to be a treasure trove of valuable tips and information. By 1905, Michelin created the Sole tire that had studs inserted to help extend the tire’s lifespan as well as to improve traction. By 1906, Michelin would launch their first plant in another country: Italy. By 1907, Michelin would launch their first plant in the United States. It was located in Milltown, New Jersey.
By 1914, Michelin began to build aircraft for the French government to use during the war. They built and contributed 1,884 aircraft and a warehouse at the Clermont-Ferrand tire storage area was used as a temporary hospital to treat soldiers wounded during combat. Michelin reports that 2,993 soldiers were treated at the hospital. By 1923, Michelin would be back focusing on innovative designs and tire models. It was in 1923 that Michelin designed the Comfort tire that was the first low pressure passenger tire.
In 1925, Michelin expanded their rubber facilities and purchased 13,600 acres in Indochina. Two years later, Michelin would open a plant in England and a second plant in Italy. In 1929, Michelin expanded their tire company and created the Micheline rail car ad train tire. One year later, the company took out a patent for a tire with a built in tube. The patent and tire would be the predecessor for the tubeless tire. In 1932, Michelin designed the Super Comfort tire, which was a low pressure model. The next year, Michelin would see more expansion as they opened up a facility in Argentina. In 1934, Michelin developed the Stop tire. The tire was a huge success as it featured anti skid strips on the rubber that would prevent or reduce the risk of skidding on roads that were wet. In 1937, Michelin designed the Pilot and Metalic tires.
Michelin underwent a name change and in 1940 officially became Michelin Rubber Manufacturing. More innovative developments were underway and in 1946, Michelin developed the radial tire. By 1949, the radial tire was sold under the name Michelin X. The success of radial technology prompted Michelin to apply the technique to truck tires in 1952. In 1965, Michelin XAS, the first asymmetric tire was designed for use with fast cars. In 1967, the Michelin X replaced the Michelin ZX. IN 1975, the TRX and XZX were launched. The XZX replaced the ZX tire. In 1994, Michelin created the Energy tire, which was designed for fuel economy. Michelin tires continue to provide breakthroughs and technological advances in tire safety and energy savings.