Text and photos by Kap Maceda Aguila
PATTAYA, Thailand — Did you know that as much as one in every five full tanks of fuel can be, in effect, consumed by tires? So choose well when shopping for the only things making contact with the road. Of course, safety remains the utmost concern. However, we are mostly pushed into tire shops when confronted with the realization that our tires, well, no longer make tracks.
Recently, Michelin Philippines unveiled a potentially game-changing new model in its Primacy line. The Primacy 4 highlights a number of advantages, pillared on a bold “Safe When New, Safe When Worn” slogan that promises “lasting safety and excellent performance in both new and worn states, throughout its entire life cycle.”
The “when worn” aspect of the pitch is something new — and significant. Asserted Cyrille Roget, Michelin’s worldwide director for scientific and innovation communication, at the Primacy 4’s regional launch here: “New tires only exist only on the shelf in the store… as soon as you start to drive, the tire performance changes… So how do you know you’re safe?” Michelin asks people to rethink and reframe how they think about tires.
At the firm’s request, TUV Rheinland Thailand Limited conducted tests on new and worn Primacy 4 tires versus four other premium brands. The results were compelling: Primacy 4 displayed superior braking (2.5 meters shorter) when new — a lead that grows to an impressive 5.1 meters shorter when worn, compared to the other brands. The “worn” tires had two millimeters of remaining tread depth, and wet-braking distances were recorded from 80 kph to standstill.
The Primacy 4 was also rated “most silent and comfortable” upon assessment of interior noise at 50 kph -70 kph and a comfort test at 30 kph — 50kph. The reckoning was performed on similar 225/50R17 tires fitted to a Honda Accord.
A delegation of journalists from Asia Pacific, including this writer, was asked to witness and be part of the aforementioned regional launch here. Part of the activities was the replication of the comparison testing. A professional driver executed the same tests performed on the same competing brands in January to similar results, while writers were invited to do noise and comfort testing by driving through test terrains aboard differently equipped cars.
According to Louis Giraud, Michelin vice-president for B2C marketing in East Asia and Oceania, buyers often consider four main factors when sourcing tires: safety, silence, comfort and price. Michelin looked at all these aspects in the development of the Primacy 4. Mr. Giraud continued that, typically, car owners replace their tires after three to four years of service or 40,000 to 50,000 kilometers — reflecting the commonly held belief that usage has a direct correlation with performance degradation. But Michelin wants to take exception.
Mr. Roget asserted; “We are here to understand consumer needs. We’re a company that is very consumer centric… safety is as the core of what we do every day.” He added that a sum of €6 billion to €9 billion is saved in Europe alone owing to the extended service life of Michelin’s tires — again, a direct product of the earnest work that the company’s innovators do.
The new product, explained Michelin Philippines chief representative Michael Nunag in a statement, “addresses two major pain points of consumers in our country: Safety, journey after journey, due to unfavorable road conditions and rain-related accidents; and comfort, due to challenging road and traffic conditions.”
Mr. Roget shared that the company is driven by a passion for innovation — resulting in groundbreaking, tangible technologies such as the radial tire in 1946 and the use of silica compound in the 1990s. “This is really in our core,” he insisted. “Last year, we spent €640 million [on] innovation.” Some 600 out of the 117,000 employees Michelin employees worldwide are involved in innovation work. In 2017, the company registered an excess of 400 patents — adding to a considerable total of 12,000 tire-related patents in its portfolio since 1889.