PHOENIX—Michelin North America Inc. will replace its top-of-the-line performance tire, the XGTZ4, this year with a tire built on Michelin's proprietary C3M automated manufacturing equipment and featuring three distinct tread compounds.
The new tire, the Pilot Sport A/S, will be marketed as a "no compromise" performance tire, featuring a 400 treadwear rating and—thanks to the multiple tread compounds—"breakthrough" all-season performance, said Alison Heiser, brand manager for the Michelin brand.
Michelin unveiled the new tire in early January during its Michelin Americas Small Tires 2001 meeting in Phoenix.
C3M—the same process the company uses for the custom-designed BFGoodrich Scorcher colored tires—allows Michelin to position a dry-handling-optimized tread compound on the shoulders, a wet-handling-optimized compound in the center rib, and a third compound designed to deliver optimal, all-season wet and snow grip in the contact patch between the shoulders and center rib.
The Pilot A/S leads a complete makeover of Michelin's performance lineup in North America, Ms. Heiser told dealers attending the MAST national sales meeting.
The other new products will be the Pilot Exalto—an H- and V-rated summer tire replacing the Pilot SX-GT—and the Pilot Primacy, a V- and Z-rated premium touring tire for European luxury cars. It replaces the Pilot HX-MXM.
The Pilot Exalto and Primacy will debut in March in 15 and 12 sizes, respectively. The Primacy will be seen this year as original equipment on luxury European sedans, Michelin said without naming any specific fitment. The Pilot A/S will be launched in September in 35 sizes.
The launches will be accompanied by consumer promotions and a multi-million dollar event marketing program, Ms. Heiser said, geared at attracting "young, discerning tire buyers."
The spring promotion, "The picture of performance," will offer buyers of four Michelin performance tires a digital camera as a premium.
Regarding the Cross Terrain SUV P-metric light truck tire launched last fall, Ms. Heiser said Michelin research shows dealers are able to sell the product at prices as much as 24 percent above the competition and even 10 percent higher than Michelin's own LTX M/S light truck tires.
The Cross Terrain—designed specifically for use on SUVs—is a product line aimed at the "ideal" Michelin consumer, Ms. Heiser said, describing SUV owners as "educated, affluent, experienced—in a word, discerning."
MAST will add 16 sizes to the Cross Terrain portfolio of six sizes in March, Ms. Heiser said.