February 16, 2008 —
The sound tires make rolling on the road is the sound of friction and friction is a leading factor in burning more fuel to push the car down the road. Michelin, the high-end tire maker (and host of the Michelin restaurant guide) just announced its $6.8 million research program on making tires more friction-free. The company is teaming with Michelin Americas Research Co. and the International Center for Automotive Research of Clemson University in South Carolina.
The car driving through air creates most of a car’s fuel-burn rate, but tires account for 20 percent of the energy used. The combined research efforts are taking fresh looks at materials used in tires and manufacturing methodology to find the holy grail of reduced friction tires. They are also perfecting modeling and simulation tools.
Michelin recently announced that they wanted to reduce the tire-rolling energy usage by half, and have given over 4 percent of their global annual net sales to the research. Michelin already has a line of energy-saving tires—the company stating it has saved 22 million tons of CO2 and 9 billion liters of fuel.
Michelin North American’s president and chairman, Jim Micali, says: "The eyes of the transportation industry are fixed squarely on the Upstate of South Carolina, We believe that the future—not only of the automotive industry but also of transportation and mobility—lies in the imaginations and hands of these researchers searching for ways to improve fuel economy and overall mobility."