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April 22, 2019

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Making magic with Michelin: 30 years in China

FRENCH tire giant Michelin is committed to sustainable mobility with a focus on innovation to create a safe, green and accessible lifestyle for Chinese consumers.

As one of the top tire makers in the Chinese market, Michelin this year celebrates its 30th anniversary of entering Chinese mainland — and the 130th anniversary of Michelin Group.

Last October, the company was presented with the Excellence Award for Sustainability 2018. Bruno de Feraudy, president of Michelin (China) Investment Co Ltd, who has lived in Shanghai for seven years, talked to Shanghai Daily about his vision on the future of sustainable mobility in this country.

“Sustainable mobility means that we are not just selling tires,” de Feraudy said. “We want to find solutions to make our products sustainable for consumers, the country and the environment.”

“It’s our job to work with consumers as best as we can and give them with better mobility experiences,” said de Feraudy.

Michelin has been focusing heavily on providing better solutions to guarantee safety and environmental sustainability since its entry into China.

Tire is a complex product of a mix of raw materials, including natural and synthetic rubber. The grip and rolling resistance of the tire and the raw materials used are among the key factors for “safe” and “green.”

To provide the best solution, Michelin is dedicated to extending the mileage of its tires and enhancing their long-lasting performance, so that the energy and raw materials consumed and the impact on the environment can be reduced as much as possible. This, as de Feraudy sees it, is a major change for the company and the market.

Delivering performance

“We have to ensure lower resource consumption, without compromising on safety. It’s important to go further on the capability of tires to deliver the optimum performance and longevity,” de Feraudy said. “This is where we really make a difference.”

Michelin believes safety and environmental concerns can be reconciled through technologies that already exist and are easily available.

One of the best ways to do that is testing performance of worn tires, which would increase performance for each tire. Changing tires when the tread depth reaches 1.6mm instead of 3mm would save about 400 million tires a year worldwide, which would otherwise generate about 35 million tons of CO2 a year.

The company is leading in new-energy vehicle tire techonology, too. Take electrical vehicle as an example, the tires of which could be worn out more quickly than traditional fuel-consuming vehicles.

Therefore, Michelin strives to optimize electrical mobility by maintaining a reasonable mileage of the tires, on top of that reducing the rolling resistance of the tire to lower the battery consumption of EVs.

Michelin announced its ambition last year that by 2048, all of its tires will be manufactured using 80 percent sustainable materials (recycled and renewable materials) and that 100 percent of all tires will be recycled.

“What we want to give people is this vision we are working on. What we do now is to make sure we can reach these ultimate goals. Our target is to make it 100 percent recyclable and drastically change the level of green and safe mobility. It’s important for us to set the vision and know how to manage the progress and innovation we are making every year,” said de Feraudy.

Currently, the company is investing big on research and development, with more than 5 percent of its turnover each year. The RDI center in Shanghai now has more than 200 people and used global technology developed by Michelin to facilitate the sustainable mobility of those two key components.

This year, Michelin introduced to China the tire pressure monitoring system, which is a smart technology that indicates the pressure of each tire. This guarantees passengers’ safety and lightens their travel experience.

Track Connect, a tire solution targeting at race lovers was demonstrated in China GT last year, to meet the increasingly diversified needs of Chinese consumers.

Stronger interaction

As the mobility environment in China is changing rapidly, Michelin strives to develop more proper partnerships with local players to accelerate the ability of innovation and interaction. With the younger generations in China more eager to enjoy their lives and the digital trend, Michelin aims to provide more sustainable support to customers including maintenances and gastronomy.

Michelin has partnered with to expand its “online to offline” (O2O) services in China, so that customers can enjoy one-stop integration between online shops and offline networks involving after-sales service shops owned by its TyrePlus brand.

This digitalized move could help consumers conveniently maintain their vehicle through a seamless service, and optimize the mobility experience.

When the Michelin Guide first went to press in France in 1900, it encouraged emerging private car owners to take more journeys of discovery so that Michelin could build multi-dimensional connections with their customers.

Now the time-honored guide is gradually mapping out China, firstly Hong Kong and Macau, followed by Shanghai in 2016, Michelin Guide Guangzhou was released to the public last year. By establishing cooperation with WeChat Pay, it extends to more Chinese foodies while still focuses on consistency in the quality of cuisine.

In fact, since the Michelin guides have been launched in China, it motivates a lot of restaurants and chefs to step up their crafts, as the number of restaurants with a Michelin-star certificate is increasing every year.

“It’s hard for consumers to build emotions on tires. But if we can interact with them through guides to show you where to visit and eat, then they can interact with Michelin brand and enter the Michelin ecosystem,” replied de Feraudy.

Among all the tire names in China, Michelin has the highest net promoter score of 67, and enjoys top brand recognition of 89 percent.

“We are still facing major challenges in keeping up with the mobility pace to build connectivity in any area where we want to interact,” he said.

“There’s no business without a challenge, so we will continue to provide sustainable mobility to consumers, to think about their life and how can you interact with them,” said de Feraudy.


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