Michelin North America took center stage at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit to launch its new Michelin Defender line, which the tiremaker said was "a significant breakthrough for the standard passenger car tire segment."
"The Defender is the best standard passenger car tire we at Michelin have ever made, delivering tremendous quality and value to our consumers," said Pete Selleck, recently installed chairman and president of MNA. “We listened to the marketplace and realized American tire buyers are looking for a safe, fuel-efficient tire, with long tread life and excellent value for the money. The Defender tire satisfies these primary consumer needs and enhances the already strong offering of products in the Michelin portfolio.”
The Defender, which will completely replace both the Michelin Harmony and HydroEdge lines, comes with a 90,000-mile limited treadwear warranty.
MNA claims the tire “speaks directly” to consumer desire for a safer, longer-lasting, more fuel-efficient tire. The tiremaker claims the Defender will run “21,000 miles longer” than the Continental ProContact Eco Plus+ in size 215/60R16, and will stop up to 31 feet shorter than the Goodyear Assurance ComforTred Touring in size 185/65R16.
“Further adding to its safety features, the Defender tire maintains the same exceptional wet handling as the previous generation Michelin HydroEdge tire, and has increased snow traction by 15%,” MNA said.
In terms of fuel efficiency, MNA said, “Further mass reduction and a reduction in rolling resistance makes the Michelin Defender tire 17% better in rolling resistance than the previous generation Michelin product at a potential savings of up to $250 in fuel” based on “fuel at $3.50/gallon and upon fuel efficiency estimates from rolling resistance testing vs. the Yokohama Avid TRZ in size 215/60R16 at $3.50/gallon over the life of the tires.”
Available for orders as of April, the Defender features new IntelliSipe Technology, which combines its 3D Active Sipes and Variable Thickness sipes and “optimizes the number of sipes within the tire, proving additional grip.”
The tires will be available in 38 sizes ranging from 175/70R13 to 225/50R18, which, MNA said, will cover 93% of the market. Selleck said the new line will reduce the number of SKUs tire dealers have to offer from 117 (covering the Harmony and HydroEdge lines) down to 57.
Besides the mileage warranty, the Defender tire is also backed by the Michelin Promise Plan, which offers consumers a free 30-day satisfaction guarantee and three-year flat tire changing assistance.