Michelin launches bespoke European CrossClimate 2 all-season tyre
In 2015, Michelin disrupted the all-season tyre market with the launch of the CrossClimate – a tyre that approached year-round performance from a different direction. Now, following the launch of its successor (the CrossClimate 2) in the US at the end of 2020, the world’s largest tyremaker has released a new European market-orientated version which builds on the already impressive performance of the first generation and tunes the concept demonstrated by the US edition for the European market. For example, according to Michelin, the Cross Climate 2 “delivers a 10% reduction in rolling resistance when compared to its best-selling predecessor thanks to a Cool Running Sidewall designed to improve fuel efficiency or electric vehicle battery range…” amongst other enhancements.
Often words like “pioneering”, “disruptive” and “market-leading” are used too easily. In the case of the Michelin’s CrossClimate, they are deserved. When that tyre was launched back in 2015, there was nothing else like it on the market. And since then, many leading tyremakers have sought to develop their own equivalents. Before the CrossClimate, all-season tyres were winter tyres made to last longer. They were seen as a compromise on quality. Michelin worked the other way, seeking to create a tyre that performed in good weather and could perform in the wet as well as snow. Sales across the continent demonstrate that the strategy worked and so it is no surprise that six years later (following the introduction of the CrossClimate+), Michelin has chosen to introduce the CrossClimate2 .
Consumer demand for all-season tyres has also radically changed in the interim. According to ETRMA figures 27 million all-season car and SUV tyres were sold in Europe in 2020, up from 11.2 million in 2015. And Michelin reports that the company is “proud to have led” such growth.
During the CrossClimate 2’s online European launch on 2 September 2021 at 2pm (that’s a lot of twos reinforcing that this is a second generation product rather than a facelift), executive vice president Scott Clark introduced proceedings and gave a potted history of the pioneering CrossClimate range, before passing over to marketing and technical colleagues.
Redefining the term all-season tyre
What was noticeable from the presentation is that, having disrupted and helped to re-frame what is meant by an all-season tyre, but also shunning associations with that term, Michelin is now embracing the words “all-season” for its CrossClimate 2. That’s a significant departure from the original 2015 line, so Tyres & Accessories asked: When the CrossClimate was launched in 2015, Michelin rejected the all-season term of in favour of year-round performance. Now, with the CrossClimate 2 you are embracing the words “all-season”. What’s changed?
In short, the answer is that: Before, the all-season tyre concept was seen as a compromise, now “the market has evolved and grown” and Michelin is leading the way with the CrossClimate 2.
At the same time, Michelin is placing the CrossClimate 2 into a narrative context of climate change (causing a wider range of weather and necessitating all-season tyres) and sustainability (a wider Michelin value).
Category leading performance
Performance-wise, Michelin says the CrossClimate 2 is number one across a range of characteristics – but this outstanding report comes with a caveat, such performance is not necessarily at the start of the tyre’s life or even mid-way, but rather the legal limit (2mm in the comparative test data we saw). There are arguments in favour of such a worn-tyre comparison, but the fact is that the CrossClimate 2’s remarkable results will be contested by those testing at other points in the tyre’s life.
Nevertheless, the results are impressive. Comparing the CrossClimate 2 with the leading competitors in the wet, the new Michelin tyre is only a little behind the category-leading Bridgestone Weather Control A005 at full-tread. However, at 2mm TUV Sud testing suggests the CrossClimate 2 is number one (see wet braking chart).
When it comes snow braking it is similar story at full-tread, only this time Michelin narrowly beats the Continental AllSeasonContact with just a 1cm shorter stopping distance. However, at 2mm the Michelin CrossClimate2 is significantly further ahead of its premium market peers.
A 40% bigger range
As far as availability is concerned, the Michelin CrossClimate 2 is available in Europe as of the day before the launch event (1 September) in no fewer than 105 sizes for 15- to 20-inch wheels. The list includes 65 new sizes, an increase of 40 per cent over the Michelin CrossClimate+ catalogue. There is even talk of OE fitments on at least three Volvo models, with other OE announced said to be in the pipeline.
For their part, company executives reminded motorists that they don’t need to wait for the weather to fit their latest tyres – indeed the point is that they deliver all year round.
In line with the European edition’s distinction as a made-for-market product (as opposed to an export of the US version that was launched last year), the Michelin CrossClimate 2 is manufactured exclusively in seven European plants, chiefly in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.