Michelin is investing $6.8 million in a research and development project focused on further improving vehicle fuel economy by reducing tire rolling resistance. These funds will support the company’s research efforts in South Carolina and include a $1.9 million research contract with Clemson University and its International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). The work will begin immediately and is set to be completed over the next three years.
In October 2007, Michelin announced plans to further reduce tire-related energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Those plans include reducing tire rolling resistance by half. This project is one step towards achieving that goal.
Michelin Americas Research Company (MARC) will lead the project and conduct much of the work internally. Additionally, after a competitive bid process with several leading universities, Michelin selected Clemson University to conduct a significant portion of the research. The Clemson contract is valued at $1.9 million and will engage the talents of more than 20 professors, graduate and undergraduate students.
The Michelin project, including the research at Clemson, will develop new generations of tires, new manufacturing processes, new materials and improved modeling and simulation tools for use in automotive applications. It will fund a suite of technologies that will allow Michelin to put better, more advanced products on the market.
Since 1992, compared to conventional tires on the road, the 570 million Michelin green energy saving tires sold worldwide have reduced fuel consumption by an estimated 2.4 billion gallons, resulting in a reduction of CO2 emissions of more than 25 million tons, the equivalent of the amount absorbed by 880 million trees in one year, according to company calculations.
Tires are a significant part, up to 20%, of the energy needed to operate a car. For commercial trucks, the impact may be even higher, up to 30% and more. By reducing rolling resistance, Michelin can reduce the amount of tire-related energy consumed, improving fuel economy and reducing CO2 emissions.
Michelin was one of the first partners in CU-ICAR, funding an endowed chair and associated laboratory in February 2004.