COP21 - Interview with Thierry Willer, Michelin Group Technical Communication Manager

Interview - Thierry Willer

Is the constant improvement in tire performance compatible with efforts to reduce tires' environmental impact?

Definitely. The tire's greatest environmental impact occurs during its use phase. The fuel consumption directly attributable to the tires represents up to one out of every five tanks of fuel, so has a significant effect on CO2 emissions. To reduce tires' impact during use, we have to reduce fuel consumption thanks to our efforts to improve the energy efficiency of the tires. The energy efficiency consists in reducing the energy losses tires generate when they roll and are distorted by contact with the road. And to improve the energy efficiency, Michelin is working simultaneously on tire architecture, weight and materials. Note that tire usage conditions can also play a decisive role and it is essential to check your tire pressure regularly.

Michelin launched the first fuel-saving consumer tire, known as the "green tire", back in 1992. What developments has the tire seen since then?

In 1992, Michelin launched the first "green tire": MICHELIN Energy MXT. It was the outcome of research and development work begun in the early 1980s by the engineers at the Ladoux Technology Center, in France, near Clermont-Ferrand.

In 2012, Michelin launched the fifth-generation of high energy efficiency tire for passenger cars. Backed by over 20 years’ experience in developing low fuel-consumption tires, Michelin developed the MICHELIN ENERGY™ Saver+ tire, which is more environmentally friendly, safer and more economical.

It's Michelin's strategy to deliver more performances in the same tire by combining maximum safety, longevity and fuel savings, at the same time and without compromising on any of these aspects. This is what Michelin calls "MICHELIN Total Performance".

What solutions do you think might make tire manufacturing more energy efficient in years to come?

Michelin introduces innovative solutions in its tire production. In 2008, it brought in a policy to boost the use of renewable energy, using solutions that make Group sites both more environmentally friendly as well as more competitive. The renewable energy facilities now in place at our various sites saved the equivalent of over 45,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2014.

Whether they involve biomass, solar or wind power, these projects are often lengthy to set up, but they go a long way towards reducing the Group's carbon footprint on a long term basis.