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Michelin history: on the trail of Bibendum

Michelin history - tires and travel
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T he history of the tire manufacturer Michelin begins with a flat tire a cyclist who doesn't know how to help himself and who comes to the factory of the brothers Edouard and André Michelin. Edouard Michelin repairs the broken English pneumatic tire and discovers the potential of this type of tire during a test drive. In 1891, Michelin patented the removable bicycle tire.

Michelin history: 'Eclair' first car with pneumatic tires

Just a few years later, Michelin launched the first car with pneumatic tires. The 'Eclair' was built together with Peugeot. Even then, the Michelin brothers focused on PR and marketing. With the help of speed records and several race victories on Michelin tires, the quality of Michelin products is advertised. It was only logical that a Michelin mascot should be found - Bibendum was born. Edouard Michelin derived his appearance from a stack of tires.

In addition to the production of tires, Edouard Michelin also has a second passion: traveling. He drives through the area again and again in his car. Because he knows that drivers not only need tires, but also useful maps and information, Michelin published the first Guide Rouge Michelin in 1900. This includes, for example, how a driver can repair his car, where he can get food or send and receive messages by post, telegraph or telephone.

Tires and travel - the pillars of the Michelin company

The Michelin company expanded in the following years within Europe and the USA. The parent plant in Clermont-Ferrand, France, employs 4,000 people in 1906. In 1908 Michelin produced the first twin tires for buses and trucks. In addition, travel continued to play an important role. In the same year, André Michelin founded the 'route planning office', where travel routes were exchanged.

Michelin built aircraft during the First World War, but quickly returned to tire production. The first Michelin low-pressure tire is presented and the first green travel guide and the Michelin star for good food outside the French capital are introduced.

The first radial tire is a milestone in the company's history

In 1930, Michelin received the patent for a tire with a vulcanized tube. More innovations like aLow pressure tires with 1.5 bar, a low profile tire and the steel belt tire follow. In 1946, the first radial tire marked another milestone in development, which was adopted by many tire manufacturers in the mid-1950s. The first plant in Germany opened in Karlsruhe in 1931.

In 1969 Michelin already had 81,000 employees worldwide, 43,000 outside France. The radial tire celebrates its baptism of fire with its use in Formula 1. 1979 Ferrari wins the world championship title with Michelin tires. In 1990 Michelin merged with the tire manufacturer Uniroyal-Goodrich Tire Company and was considered the largest tire manufacturer. At the same time, Michelin is already keeping an eye on the environment. In 1992 the first 'green tire' comes onto the market, which is supposed to save fuel with less rolling resistance. No reason not to return to Formula 1 in 2001. In 2005 and 2006, Michelin is the tire partner of Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso.


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