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Less consumption and more durability are the major characteristics ascribed to the three new tread patterns for long hall trucks presented by Bibendum, which offers its fleet customers a combination of traditional technical consultancy and social network collaboration tools

Mino De Rigo

IN 1995 THE MARKET LAUNCH of the first low-consumption truck tyres. Eighteen years and four generations later, the baton has passed to the examples of the new X Line Energy range, which is dedicated to long haul and which Michelin has crowned the new champion of efficiency. Three new patterns, available in sizes 315/70R22.5 Z for all positions, 315/70R22.5 D for the drive axle, and 385/55R22.5 T for the trailer, which promise a substantial leap in quality compared to the homologated tyres of the previous X Energy SaverGreen series: “To begin with”  –  stated Massimo Leonardi, marketing director of the truck product line at Michelin – “it saves 515 litres of fuel and the simultaneous reduction in CO2 emissions of over 1.3 tons, based on 130,000 km, along with a considerable increase in life cycle, for overall savings close to €1,000 a year”.  Data that emerged from internal tests on trucks with five axle trailers weighing 40 tons.
   “Moreover, innovating the structure, tread and compound has allowed us to increase its versatility, achieve more even wear with constant performance over time, and even to improve robustness and efficiency on the wet”.  Available as replacements since February, subsequently the trio of new products will be integrated with the /80 sizes and gradually replace the X Energy SaverGreen range. Regarding which, the EU label sums up progress by bumping up its ratings for rolling resistance and wet grip.

Thrifty, retreadable and re-grooveable
So a double “B” for the multi-role X Line Energy Z, “BC” for the drive axle tyre X Line Energy D, and even “AB” for the trailer tyre X Line Energy T. Classifications in addition to the external noise rating of 69, 71 and 70 dB, respectively . “Maximum mileage” – Leonardi claims – “is in Michelin’s DNA: if the T design increases durability by up to 12% and wear tests have shown that lateral grip remains constant, even with a third of the tread, the Z pattern offers up to 20% more durability based on usage conditions; in addition, energy saving is combined with more wet grip. The same goes for the D pattern, which is marked M+S (Mud & Snow) and 3PMSF (3 Peaks Mountain Snow Flake) to indicate its ability to grip on slippery surfaces”. All three models can be retreaded and regrooved with a residual groove thickness of 2-3 mm.
An operation that takes full advantage of casing potential because it can travel an average of 40,000 km more; in other words, the tyre’s life is lengthened by about 4 months. Besides, a regrooved tyre further decreases fuel consumption”. To be noted is that the price of the new pattern should be the same as the previous models, with the exception of the trailer axle which is 2% dearer. At the basis of the progress that is accredited to the new range is a salvo of innovations developed at the technological centre in Ladoux near Clermont-Ferrand.

A concentrate of new solutions
In the first place, for the entire trio, the use of an EnergyFlex casing was conceived to reduce heat generation to the advantage of a smooth ride. With deep sipes on the X Line Energy Z and D tyres, the former also features shoulders that are 25% wider than its predecessor, and five, more robust ribs; the latter has the TowerPump for less tread scrub and more grip, and Delta sipes to improve grip when cornering and braking. Both tyres are part of the developments that Bibendum has named Durable Technologies, which also includes the innovative Carbion compound and the longitudinal raindrop sipes used in the X Line Energy T. One is conceived to stand up to wear and increase mileage, whereas the others, in the centre of the tread, open up to create a wider channel when the depth is less than a third. The T range (as shown by the label rating) boasts greater energy efficiency and has 12% lower rolling resistance compared to the previous model (X Esg XT). “The trailer” – emphasized the marketing manager of the Michelin truck line – “accounts for as much as 50% of the vehicle’s total rolling resistance.
“Everything connected with the X Line Energy has been tested in real conditions, in accordance with the logic we call Total Performance. In other words, the conception and development of the new range began with ascertaining the real situation, combining feedback and requests from 320,000 visits to European transport firms, our customers, and an experimentation stage equivalent to over 100,000 km in different conditions”.

From technical consultancy to LinkedIn
To help in making knowledgeable choices and observing the simple rules of correct maintenance, the Michelin men operate in the field, well aware that driving on tyres with pressures that are even only 20% lower than those recommended, for example, weakens the performance of the most efficient tyres. “We present ourselves as a real partner” –  Leonardi added – “and this is why 70 technicians visit the fleets every day to offer their advice. For helping customers at the preliminary buying stages, we have prepared a special diagnostics questionnaire, and a white book that gives clear information about truck tyre consumption and performance to dispel clichés and myths”.
The questionnaire inquires about types of journey (with over 80% of the routes on motorways, there can be no doubt that the long haul tyre is the candidate), tread condition, average speed, miles driven by each vehicle annually, consumption checks and mileage performance. This leads to the prerequisites for optimized fleet management. As to the white book, in plain and accessible language it shines a light on the main parameters that determine choice. “Another tool we offer customers” – the Michelin manager concluded – “is the new active interest group on the social network, LinkedIn, which discusses the optimization of transport costs in Europe. The participants are fleet managers and we already have 1,500 registrations”.

• No more symbols. it’s operation transparency
No longer abstruse and unfathomable symbols but space for simplicity with names that immediately identify the specific use of each series of truck tyres. Michelin has started an appropriate “transparency operation”, which has redefined the names of each range of tyres to make them unequivocal and the same throughout the world. The X Line for “line” journeys is the family of tyres for long haul transport; X Multi and X Works are for the multi-road use typical of regional patterns and work in construction sites and quarries, respectively. Not quite as eloquent but incisive nonetheless, are X Force and X Incity, part of the range dedicated to off-road and the series conceived for urban and suburban use, respectively. Really effective, lastly, is X Coach, which indicates the family of tyres for buses used for long and short distances on different types of roads.

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