This August, Michelin North America is extending its Defender promise to drivers of light trucks and SUVs with the new Defender LTX M/S. With the same Defender promise offered on passenger tires, the Defender LTX M/S gives drivers all-season confidence, tread life and fuel efficiency, Michelin said.
Being called a “compound evo-lution,” the Defender LTX M/S features Michelin’s EverTread technology. Developed first for Michelin’s commercial truck tires, EverTread enhances Michelin’s LTX M/S2 tire with compounding that can hold up in tougher conditions, the tiremaker said.
Eventually the LTX M/S 2, with the exception of a few OE SKUs, will phase out and be replaced by the Defender LTX M/S, the tiremaker said.
“The sculpture is exactly the same. In some cases we’re using the same molds; it’s 100% a compound improvement,” said Stephen Peters, brand category manager light truck manager for Michelin.
The main reason for the compound enhancement is to meet the high-torque demands of today’s light trucks, Peters notes.
Acknowledging the LTX M/S2’s popularity and success in the market, Peters said the compound evolution message is very important to dealers and consumers, because “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
“The LTX M/S2 is very familiar. That same sculpture was almost the same as the LTX M/S1,” he shared. “By applying the name Defender to it, we’re trying to show we’re evolving the compound to meet where trucks are now and where they’re going.”
The move to the Defender name is part of Michelin’s plan to divide its tires into two “families.” By focusing on the families – Premier and Defender – dealers have a much easier message to deliver to consumers.
“Dealers don’t have to learn different things for every product line. They learn one thing and learn it well and it can be applied across the entire tire family,” Peters said.
Keeping with the first Defender promise of tread life, Michelin is offering a 70,000-mile warranty for P-metric fitments and a 50,000-mile warranty for LT-metric fitments in the Defender LTX M/S. While the warranty for LT sizes is actually less than its predecessor, Michelin believes its users will get more real world life out of the tire.
In the half-ton sizes, Michelin wants to take the person who gets 20,000 miles tread life due to the heavy torque applied to the ground, to get 50,000 miles, Peters shared.
“Warranty is a selling tool not a real-world promise on tread life,” he said. “We want the person who use to buy the M/S 2 or someone who bought a competitor’s tire to get more miles out of the Defender LTX than they would have otherwise.”
With the new compounding there’s an increased resistance to chip and tear and improved tread life on gravel, Peters said.
The Defender LTX M/S will offer greater market coverage than the LTX M/S2. With 45 SKUs launching in 2015 and an additional 26 SKUs available in 2016, the Defender LTX M/S will have 77% market coverage. Many new SKUs will be in crossover sizes, Michelin said.
Additionally, Michelin believes the Defender LTX M/S will be a successful tire for contractors and fleets, especially with car-derived vans such as the Ford Transit.
Michelin has lined up a few lifestyle deals to accompany the launch of the Defender LTX M/S. The tiremaker has partnered with Ducks Unlimited as well as the National Wild Turkey Federation, it said.
The Defender LTX M/S will be produced at Michelin’s plants in the U.S. and Canada.