France's Michelin rolls out microchips to make truck tires smart

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(Bloomberg) -- Michelin, the French tiremaker that also publishes the eponymous restaurant guide, is betting on a future paved with chips -- microchips, that is.

By the end of this year, every Michelin truck tire will be equipped with electronic sensors to collect information about ambient temperature, pressure, wear and location, according to the company’s No. 2 executive Florent Menegaux, who will replace CEO Jean-Dominique Senard in 2019. Tires for passenger cars will be outfitted in a few years, he said Thursday at a mobility conference in Montreal.

Cie. Generale des Etablissements Michelin, as the manufacturer is formally known, is seeking to raise its technological prowess in the face of intensifying competition from Asian rivals churning out lower-cost products. Senard has worked to expand the French company’s premium product lines, with microchip implants in tires part of the effort.

Data collected from the chips can help drivers adapt their behavior to improve tire performance and durability as well as anticipate when tire changes are needed, according to Michelin. Fleet productivity can be raised, including in the mining sector, by reducing inspections and adapting truck speed to pressure and heat conditions.

The adoption rate of connected tires is driven by cost, and that will drop “very soon,” Menegaux said. “The cost of technology is very important.”

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