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Michelin Tyres have gone from strength to strength over the decades always proving to be the number one tyre manufacturer in the World.
An important milestone in the history of Michelin Tyres was their introduction of carbon black in the rubber compound mixture, this not only gave the tyres their black colour but changed the chemical mixture of the compound which resulted in the greater longevity in the tyres life. This change happened in around 1917 and in 1919 came the introduction of parallel textile cords this would be known as the “comfort” tyre a few years later and was to become the first low pressure tyre. Later in 1935 yet other improvements were made and the “Super comfort” tyre was born. This enabled the tyres to be run at even lower pressures for a more comfortable ride, these tyres were the first of their kind in the world. These improvements were of great benefit to Michelin Tyres, leading to their next great innovation.
The next great Michelin tyre innovation was to become a World leader and set a standard for the rest of the tyre manufacturers to try and follow. This was to be the Michelin X tyre.
Michelin Tyres part owned the then ailing French car maker Citroen and developed the tyre partly for the new Citroen 2CV. The Worlds first radial tyre was born, the plies that ran from bead to bead were of a textile material,but the tread belt that ran radial round the the tyre was made of steel. The French tyre maker could not believewhat it had created. “X” tyres gave better handling, better cornering, better braking, they were giving double the mileage compared to the “cross ply” tyres, gave a much lower fuel consumption and because of the supple and flexible side walls gave much improved comfort to the ride of the car, a truly “great invention”.
This was the World standard for tyres and was creating interest from European car makers. So much so that Lancia became the first car makers to use the Michelin Tyreson their Aurelia model. This was soon to be followed by Mercedes and on their own 2CV models.
Whilst this was all happening in Europe the Americans were pursuing a different tyre strategy, but this is in part three. Arthur W Savage was the first man to invent and patent the radial tyre, but when his patent ran out Michelin Tyres were the first to pick it up and develop into the “X”. His American contemporaries were not interested in the radial tyre, so the innovation went to Europe and Michelin Tyres.