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Happy 60th birthday to radial truck tyres

Stoke-on-Trent, UK: Michelin is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the introduction of radial truck tyres in 1952. The launch of the first Michelin X radial truck tyre helped to transform the road transport industry, which until then was using cross-ply tyres.

The introduction of radials made trucking safer and more efficient – and incited other manufacturers to pursue the same path.  In 2011, radial tyres accounted for all of the Western European truck tyre market.

Michelin researcher Marius Mignol invented the first Michelin X steel radial tyre for cars in 1946, following it with the launch of the X radial truck tyre in 1952. The ‘X’ is Michelin’s trademark for its radial tyres and is making its most recent appearance in the truck market on the X MultiWay 3D tyre, which has just been launched in the UK’s most popular commercial vehicle tyre size, the 295/80 R 22.5.

An Italian poster promoting the new radial in 1952

Sharn Samra, head of Michelin truck marketing for the UK and Republic of Ireland, says: “Michelin’s history has been shaped by innovation and there’s no better example of that than the radial tyre. Marius Mignol conducted secret research in occupied France during World War II to develop the Michelin X, and all these years later his dedication to innovation continues to run through our technical culture – just look at the €592m  of investment we channel into research and development every year! That is more than any other tyre manufacturer.”

A decade after launching the X Radial truck tyre, and as word about the tyre’s benefits was spreading throughout the transport industry, Michelin ran a series of high-profile field tests in Europe in 1962.

On one test Michelin compared the performance of a set of Michelin X radial truck tyres with conventional cross-ply truck tyres on two trucks undertaking a 435 kilometre journey from Thiviers, in the Dordogne region of France, to Paris. The truck running Michelin’s X radial truck tyres reduced fuel consumption by 6.7 litres per 100 kilometres compared to the truck running on cross-ply tyres, a saving of 13.8%.

Michelin estimates that worldwide, radials now account for 73% of truck tyres.