Pioneering Michelin® Ultraflex™ Technologies to expand Agricultural Radial Revolution in 2010

GREENVILLE, S.C. (Jan. 20, 2010) – MICHELIN Ultraflex Technologies pioneered the revolutionary IF (Increased Flexion) tire classification with the 2006 North American introduction of the award-winning and now trendsetting MICHELIN® Axiobib® radial. Now, while the first competitive IF product finally enters the market, Michelin North America Agricultural Tires is poised to expand its MICHELIN Ultraflex Technologies portfolio and be first to market a second radial in yet another tire classification, VF, or Very High Flexion.

Working with the U.S. Tire and Rim Association to create the IF category in 2005, Michelin introduced the first IF-classified ag radial in North America four years before a competitor entered the market. Tires that meet IF criteria are characterized by their greater ability to flex under heavier loads, maximizing the contact patch under lower pressures, thereby reducing soil compaction in the field and increasing yields.

Radials that meet the VF criteria, like the MICHELIN Xeobib™, flex an additional 20 percent more than IF-classified tires. The MICHELIN Xeobib was introduced in 2003, when Michelin helped pioneer the VF classification with the introduction of MICHELIN Ultraflex Technologies.

“Since their global introduction in 2003, MICHELIN Ultraflex Technologies have fueled innovation that ultimately benefits growers and the entire agricultural industry,” said Michael Burroughes, director of marketing for Michelin North America Agricultural Tires. “Although we are happy to see the introduction of a competitor’s IF product, the industry must catch up with these technologies in order to meet market demand for large-volume, low-pressure tires. Demand has only grown over the past five years, and that’s why we will introduce a new tire line featuring MICHELIN Ultraflex Technologies later in 2010.”

The IF-classified MICHELIN Axiobib, which allows high-horsepower tractors to carry 20 percent more load or operate at up to 20 percent lower air pressure than standard radials, was honored for its advanced engineering in 2008 by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers with the esteemed AE50 award. The St. Joseph, Mich.-based scientific organization presents awards annually to innovations in the ag and food industries.

“MICHELIN Ultraflex Technologies can deliver important financial and environmental benefits through factors such as decreased fuel use and lower soil compaction,” said Michael Vandel, agricultural segment manager for Michelin North America Agricultural Tires. “As a result, farmers employing IF-classified radials like the MICHELIN Axiobib that feature MICHELIN Ultraflex Technologies can both boost yields and help reduce leaching and runoff, which is good for the both the grower’s bottom line and the environment.”

Burroughes said that as important as Michelin’s introduction of the IF category was five years ago, the company’s expansion of its advanced radial technology will make 2010 another important year for farmers looking to improve the equipment and techniques with which they ply their trade. “When we first introduced MICHELIN Ultraflex Technologies, we knew the IF tire classification was going to be a game changer,” Burroughes said. “That’s evident in the commitment our competitors have made to finally enter the category. More important, it’s evident in the way the industry has embraced our IF MICHELIN Axiobib radial that is now available as a fitment on high-horsepower tractors from AGCO, Challenger, Case-IH, New Holland and – most recently – John Deere.”

Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks, motorcycles and the space shuttle. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelin-us.com) employs 21,600 and operates 18 major manufacturing plants in 16 locations.

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