French tyre major Michelin has opened its newest plant in
North America, which will produce the innovative Michelin X Tweel airless
radial tyre for commercial applications. The new 135,000 square-foot facility
in Piedmont, S.C., represents Michelin’s 10th manufacturing facility in South
Carolina and the 16th in the U.S. The company will invest about $50 million in
the new plant
According to a press release, an idea first conceived by
Michelin research engineers in the United States, the Tweel is a revolutionary
non-pneumatic tyre that changed the configuration of a conventional tyre,
bringing together the tyre and the wheel assembly into one solid unit. The
Tweel comprises a rigid hub connected to a shear beam by means of flexible,
deformable polyurethane spokes, all functioning as a single unit.
Unlike conventional tyres, the Tweel has no air, thereby
solving what had seemed to be the unavoidable challenge of chronic flat tyres
that plagues the landscape, construction, contracting, refuse/recycling and
“The Tweel being built here in South Carolina is yet another
dramatic example of Michelin’s long-standing commitment to breakthrough
innovation,” said Pete Selleck, Michelin North America chairman and president.
“The Tweel concept was born at Michelin Americas Research Company in
Greenville, S.C., one of Michelin’s three global technology centres, and now the
Tweel will be manufactured right here in the Greenville area to satisfy a
growing commercial market.”
The new plant gives Michelin the ability to boost output of
its Michelin X Tweel SSL skid-steer tyres and begin production of the new
Michelin X Tweel tyre as original equipment for John Deere to equip its Ztrak
900 Series line-up of zero-turn commercial mowers.
“Differentiating us from competitors, the Tweel airless
radial tyre is the industry’s first commercialised airless radial solution and
verifies Michelin’s leadership for the next generation of mobility,” said Ralph
Dimenna, head of Michelin Tweel Technologies, adding, “The Tweel airless radial
tyre enables Michelin to enter new markets and expand its reach in existing
business segments within the low-speed application category. The industry is
hungry for solutions contributing to productivity, safety and bottom lines.”
Originally introduced as a concept at the 2004 Paris Motor
Show, the Michelin X Tweel is Michelin’s highly advanced airless radial tyre
and is the only commercial product available to offer the advantages of no
maintenance, no compromise and no downtime.
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