The motivation behind Michelin’s passion for motorsport dates all the way back to 1895. After inventing the removable bicycle tyre, Edouard and André Michelin turned their attention to building their own car – called L’Eclair – in order to conduct a real-world test of their pneumatic tyre by taking part in the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris road race. Behind the wheel of L’Éclair, the brothers accrued invaluable experience that enabled them to quickly refine the concept of the car tyre. Four years later, the electrically-powered Jamais Contente became the world’s first car to travel faster than 100kph, and it did so on Michelin tyres!
Throughout its history, the Michelin Group has understood the value of motorsport as a Hi-Tech Lab. Beyond the brand’s sporting achievements, it provides an extreme environment to explore new limits, thereby allowing Michelin to incubate new ideas, accelerate the transfer of technology, facilitate the sharing of experience and knowledge, shorten development lead times and trial new manufacturing processes. In light of current environmental issues, this agility clearly contributes to the firm’s ability to rise to the challenges associated with the quest for sustainable mobility.
In 2013, Michelin became a founding partner of the FIA Formula E Championship – the world’s first racing series for all-electric single-seater cars. It saw this pioneering new discipline* as a tremendous opportunity to back its commitment to sustainable mobility and its associated goals – namely, to improve mobility by making it safer, more affordable and more environmentally-friendly, while at the same time promoting electromobility and accelerating the drive towards fully-connected mobility.
Motorsport, in the service of sustainable mobility
Lab geared to sustainable mobility for Michelin
For Michelin, the FIA Formula E Championship for electric single-seater racing cars serves as an outstanding Hi-Tech Lab for that fosters innovations and the development of sustainable solutions for both its customers and the services it provides.
Moto-E™ World Cup
- FIA Formula E
- FIM Moto-E™ World Cup
- Mission H24
Thanks to this Hi-Tech Lab, Michelin has been able to ramp up its research capability and develop ground-breaking new materials that guarantee outstanding performance throughout the lifespan of the tyres it manufactures. In 2019, it revolutionised the Michelin Pilot Sport – the tyre that equips Formula E’s all-electric single-seaters – by making it the world’s very first connected racing tyre! Thanks to this innovation, the Hi-Tech Lab that is Formula E has helped Michelin gain a solid bank of experience in the realms of data acquisition and processing, and this research will ultimately contribute to the development of connected solutions destined for the mass market.
For 2050, the Michelin Group has set itself another significant challenge – that of producing tyres that contain at least 80 percent of sustainable materials (bio-sourced, regenerated or recycled materials) of. Michelin’s involvement in pioneering motorsport series like FIA Formula E and the FIM Moto-E™ World Cup which stars all-electric motorbikes provides it with enviable opportunities to optimise its research work and, in so doing, achieve the strategic objectives of its Vision 2050 plan. In addition to being a major player in the drive for safer, increasingly environmentally-friendly mobility, Michelin is placing a particular focus on the expansion of electromobility. Through its subsidiary Symbio (a joint venture involving Michelin and Faurecia), the group is working on a number of fuel-cell solutions. Inspired by the Mission H24 project and GreenGT’s LMPH2G racing prototype, a new class is to be created in the Le Mans 24 Hours for hydrogen-powered prototypes from 2024. This Hi-Tech Lab in endurance racing will further accelerate Michelin’s research in the field.
When it comes to motorsport, as in everything it undertakes, Michelin is committed to a strategy of long-term sustainable performance. Through innovation, development, testing and technology transfer, the mission of the brand’s Hi-Tech Lab is to make sustainable solutions honed in the world of motorsport available to the broadest possible market as quickly as possible.
(*) The FIA Formula E Championship is the world’s only racing series to have received ISO 20121 certification which recognises sustainable practices in event management and organisation.