NAIAS 2012: Michelin rolls out the Defender

  • 19-Jan-2012 03:56 EST
Michelin Defender.jpg

The new Michelin Defender all-season tire had designers, engineers, and other technical experts involved in a product development process that spanned three years.

Safety, longevity, and fuel efficiency are the three performance cues of the new Michelin Defender passenger vehicle tire, which goes on sale in retail outlets this April.

"This latest Michelin innovation can reinvigorate the vehicle that is already in American driveways and give it instant, improved performance," Pete Selleck, Chairman and President of Michelin North America, said during the Defender tire's unveiling on Jan. 9 at the 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.

The Defender debuts IntelliSipe Technology, which is the combination of 3D Active Sipes (first passenger application was the LTX M/S2 Michelin all-season tire) and Variable Thickness sipes (first used on Michelin's Primacy MXV4 all-season tire).

"This new enhancement in tread engineering provides exceptional tread block rigidity and interlocking action that optimizes the number of sipes within the tire above what we have done before in any Michelin passenger car product. The Defender is the best standard passenger-car tire that Michelin has ever made," Selleck asserted.

Industrial designer Derick Harris, who led the Defender's design team efforts at Michelin's R&D facility in Greenville, SC, said the Defender's tread blocks respond according to the specific driving situation.

"Under high-stress solicitations as the tread block rolls through contact, the block actually locks up and all the grooves interlock to provide rigidity for improved traction and wear. As the tread block exits contact, the tread blocks open up for fuel efficiency and durable tread wear," Harris explained.

Compared to the previous-generation Michelin HydroEdge, the Defender enhances its snow traction by 15% while maintaining the same wet handling performance. In terms of rolling resistance, the Defender has improved by 17% in comparison to the previous-generation product.

According to Forrest Patterson, Technical Director for North America passenger cars and light trucks at Michelin, "We're combining our latest-generation silica tread compound and a robust tire carcass with the new IntelliSipe Technology to deliver market-leading tire performance with no compromises."

The Defender tire is appropriate for 93% of standard passenger vehicles and will be offered in 38 sizes, ranging from 175/70R 13-in to 225/50R 18-in, according to Michelin officials.

Said Harris, "We have truly pushed the limits of design for the Defender, using very consistent, capable, predictable, lateral grooves and features."

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