Michelin, your source for tires, restaurant guides and anthropomorphic rubber logos, is investing $6.8 million in a research and development project with the goal of increasing vehicle fuel economy by decreasing their tires’ rolling resistance. This is part of Michelin’s goal, unveiled back in October, of improving fuel efficiency and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions with their tires.
Michelin estimates that tires can account for as much as 20 percent of the energy consumption in a car. While alternative energy vehicle makers look to squeeze every bit of efficiency out of their vehicles, tire efficiency is an area that few vehicular startups have invested resources. Michelin is no stranger to outfitting bleeding-edge vehicles with high-efficiency tires; Michelin’s low-rolling resistance Proixma tires were on GM’s EV1 back in the day.
However, there is currently no industry standard for the display of a tire’s rolling resistance. Michelin says it’s working to establish one; in the meantime, the company marks its low-rolling resistance tires as “green tires” on the sidewall.