Michelin opens world’s first manufacturing plant to build airless radial tire

On Nov. 20, Michelin marked the opening of its newest plant in North America, which will produce the innovative Michelin X Tweel airless radial tire for commercial applications.

An idea first conceived by Michelin research engineers in the United States, the Tweel is a revolutionary non-pneumatic tire that changed the configuration of a conventional tire, bringing together the tire 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 tires, the Tweel has no air, thereby solving what had seemed to be the unavoidable challenge of chronic flat tires that plagues the landscape, construction, contracting, refuse/recycling and agricultural industries.

“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 centers, 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 award-winning Michelin X Tweel SSL skid-steer tires and begin production of the new Michelin X Tweel Turf as original equipment for John Deere to equip its ZTrak 900 Series lineup of commercial zero-turn mowers.

“Differentiating us from competitors, the Tweel airless radial tire is the industry’s first commercialized airless radial solution and verifies Michelin’s leadership for the next generation of mobility,” said Ralph Dimenna, head of Michelin Tweel Technologies. “The Tweel airless radial tire 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. Serving our customers is at the center of our strategy for success.”

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.

“Michelin has been a global leader for over 125 years, and we are proud to say they have been part of the South Carolina family for over 40 years,” said South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. “Michelin is a leader in the tire industry, and they are innovative in their product development, which continues to put South Carolina on the world stage.”

To learn more about the Michelin Tweel, visit www.michelintweel.com or www.michelinmedia.com.

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