Mar 2012: Michelin Launches Latest Pilot Alpin4 and Latitude Alpin Winter tyres
French tyre major Michelin tyres recently announced the launch of the newest generation of their flagship winter products – the Pilot Alpin 4 and the Latitude Alpin tyres.
These tyres exclusively cater to high performance cars and SUVs and will become available in the European markets by May 2012. Michelin claims that the newest versions of these high performance winter tyres will deliver even higher performance, setting new benchmarks for the category as a whole. These benchmarks are in fact related to “unparalleled results in the areas of safety, mobility and longevity”, Michelin added.
The Details of the Tyres
The Latitude Alpin is available in a single pattern. The Pilot Alpin 4, on the other hand, will be available in two versions. One is an asymmetric tread pattern oriented towards the aftermarket and the other is a special N-rated directional Porsche pattern. Both the tyres will be available in a wide range of sizes, enabling fitments of up to 21 inch diameter alloys. Michelin is so confident about the new range that they have virtually doubled the stock keeping units.
Rationale behind Development of New Pilot Alpin 4 and Latitude Alpin
Michelin has been keenly observing the dynamics of the European tyre markets. The overall tyre market in Europe has grown by 10% from 2009 to 2011, (from 259 million units to 286 million units sold in absolute figures). Michelin says that in particular the winter tyre market in Europe has emerged as a significant niche, growing by 50% in the same period.
This would translate to a total of 100 million units of winter tyres being sold across Europe in 2011. Looking further into this niche, Michelin discovered a super niche- premium winter tyres for high performance cars and SUVs (to which the two Michelin tyres belong). This super niche saw the sale of 9 million units in the period, representing a growth of 82% in 3 years.
According to Michelin, the explosive growth in this sector is due to the increased emphasis drivers and automobile manufacturers are placing on safety in their winter driving experience with their SUVs and sports vehicles. These customers do not want only performance, but performance backed with safety in terms of improved grip and shorter braking distances and greater overall control on the vehicle.
And Michelin combines high performance along with safety in the Pilot Alpin 4 and Latitude Alpin tyres, making them ideal for premium winter tyre super niche segment.
The Process of Development
Developing the unique balance between performance and safety in the Pilot Alpin 4 and Latitude Alpin tyres was not easy. Michelin undertook preliminary studies across various countries like Germany, France, Russia, Sweden and Canada. In all 4000 motorists were quizzed on their winter driving experiences.
They were asked ‘what were the safety issues they encountered in winter’ and ‘what specific features they desired in their winter tyres/ driving experience’. Through these surveys, in all, nearly 12,000 loss-of-control situations emerged. These situations were analyzed and incorporated into the product development strategy. The product development also focused on the priorities of motorists while considering winter tyre purchase.
Thus, the new Michelin Pilot Alpin 4 and Latitude Alpin tyres emerged.