Michelin North America Inc. is phasing out bias-ply BFGoodrich agricultural tires by mid-2007.
Addressing the firm's 2007 objectives during a review of the North American tire market, Bill Schafer, vice president marketing and sales for agricultural tires, said the company will continue to market BFG radial tires.
``As a corporation, Michelin is committed to advancing mobility within the agricultural industry,'' Mr. Schafer said. ``With the exception of a few machines (smaller, older or antique tractors), equipment today requires the advantages offered by radial tires in order to achieve maximum efficiency.''
Michelin noted that the number of smaller, lower-horsepower machines-which typically use bias-ply tires-continues to decline.
``Therefore, we're taking the lead in advancing the industry from bias to radial by offering outstanding value with our BFGoodrich line of radial ag tires as a complement to the advanced radial technology provided by Michelin brand premium radials,'' the firm said.
Mr. Schafer said the bias product was only a small part of the firm's business in North America, probably no more than 10 percent.
Michelin sources all of its farm and forestry tires from plants in Hungary, Spain, France and Romania.
Michelin estimates radials make up 28 percent of the replacement drive tire market in North America and that this share is growing about 2 percent a year. At the same time, the company estimates it controls about 26 percent of the radial segment.
To address the higher horsepower issue, Michelin is launching a range of Axiobib tires using what it calls ``Ultraflex'' technology, which increases the size of the deflection zone in the sidewall. This allows the farmer to run the tire at lower inflation pressures, thereby reducing soil compaction by 20 percent, Michelin claimed, without affecting load-carrying capacity.
The firm also is launching the XMCL compact equipment tire to replace the XM27 and XM37 models; the new line offers 50-percent more load-carrying capacity than the XM27. The XMCL will be available to the replacement market starting in January, according to Michelin.