PIEDMONT, S.C.Michelin North America Inc. has budgeted about $50 million to convert a 135,000-sq.-ft. structure in Piedmont to the first manufacturing site for its non-pneumatic Tweel tire/wheel assembly, the company disclosed Nov. 20 at the plant's christening.
Pete Selleck, Michelin North America chairman and president, called his company's decision to build the Tweel in South Carolina another dramatic example of Michelin's long-standing commitment to breakthrough innovation.
Michelin technicians developed the Tweela network of elastomeric polyurethane spokes fused to a wheel hub and a circular outer flat rubber-covered rimat the Michelin Americas Research Co. in Greenville, S.C.
The concept debuted at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit and a commercially viable product for industrial applications went on the market in late 2012.
Differentiating us from competitors, the Tweel...is the industry's first commercialized airless radial solution and verifies Michelin's leadership for the next generation of mobility, said Ralph Dimenna, head of Michelin Tweel Technologies.
As a non-pneumatic product, the Tweel offers a solution to the dilemma of flat tires that plagues the landscape, construction, contracting, refuse/recycling and agricultural industries, Michelin said.
The Tweel...enables Michelin to enter new markets and expand its reach in existing business segments within the low-speed application category, Mr. Dimenna said. Regarding other uses for the Tweel, Mr. Selleck said he expects that one day it will be used on automobiles but there is more exhaustive research and testing to make sure that it is right.
The new planta converted multi-use building previously occupied by a New York-based designer and manufacturer of home furnishing productswill allow Michelin to boost output of Tweel SSL skid-steer tires and begin production of Tweel Turf tires to fulfill an OE contract for Deere & Co. for the John Deere ZTRAK 900 Series zero-turn commercial mowers.
The structure sits on a 12.9-acres plot. Michelin did not disclose the number of employees working at the new plant, its 10th in South Carolina and 16th in the U.S.
Piedmont is an unincorporated census-designated place south of Greenville in Anderson County with a population of about 5,000.