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TB EDITORIAL: Where cars—and tires—star

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AKRON (Jan. 22, 2014) — Every January car aficionados from around the world gather in Detroit for the first major auto show of the year, the North American International Auto Show—a.k.a. the Detroit Auto Show.

The Motown event showcases the newest models being offered by auto makers from around the globe and includes lots of cool concept vehicles that whet the motoring appetites of journalists, auto enthusiasts and the general public, not to mention those employed by the auto industry.

If you love cars, Detroit in January is the place to be.

While the cars are the stars of every auto show, the reality is that their performance is only as good as the rubber on which they ride.

We in the tire industry need to remind ourselves of that and share that fact with tire customers and vehicle owners often and with pride.

After all, it’s the tire’s small contact patch—the only part of the vehicle that touches the ground—that takes all of the sophisticated handling components built into today’s cars, SUVs, CUVs and light trucks and allows them to work.

Without the highly technical and often underappreciated tire responding to the handling cues of the vehicle and applying them to the road, cars and light trucks could not perform as they do. Furthermore, transportation would not be nearly as easy, comfortable, exciting or safe.

So while auto makers and their latest and greatest products and technologies rightly take center stage, the auto industry, tire dealers, journalists and consumers should not overlook the contributions tires make to the performance and appearance of the overall motoring product.

Like the auto manufacturers, tire companies are pushing that technology envelope with their products, helping to improve vehicle handling, safety and performance.

At this year’s Detroit Auto Show, Michelin North America Inc. unveiled the Premier A/S tire featuring its “EverGrip” technology that allows a tire to maintain wet traction as it wears.

To achieve this, Michelin designed the tire with a unique rubber compound for enhanced wet grip, hidden grooves in the tread that emerge as the tire wears down, and expanding rain grooves that widen over time.

Not an easy manufacturing task.

Maintaining the tire’s wet grip as it wears looks to be a breakthrough in performance and automotive safety.

Other tire makers, too, are pushing the tire performance envelope with various technologies looking for the Holy Grail of better handling, grip, rolling-resistance and tread life.

It takes high-performing tires to make a vehicle great. Tire dealers should take pride in that—and tell their customers about it.

This editorial appeared in the Jan. 20 print edition of Tire Business. Have an opinion about it? Send a letter to the editor via email at

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