WATERVILLE, N.S. — Michelin’s revolutionary wide-base single tire started rolling out of the company’s Waterville, N.S. manufacturing plan ahead of schedule. It’s just too bad, though, that truckers in the province where they’re made still can’t use them.
The company has been busy rolling rubber for the X One after announcing last year it would invest $92 million to install production for wide single tire.
Wide-based tires provide substantial weight savings, better fuel economy, and superior stability over duals.
About 100 employees across the Waterville facility had a hand in producing the plant’s first X One tire. “Getting a new system in place, adapting to it and ensuring production quality isn’t always an easy task, but our employees were up to the challenge,” says Grant Ferguson, plant manager at the Waterville facility.
NS now produces single tires. But the province’s truckers still can’t use ’em
While the X One is for the first time rolling off assembly lines in Nova Scotia, the “super singles” — as they’re sometimes referred to — are earmarked mostly for the U.S. market and, to a degree, a handful of select Canadian jurisdictions where axle weight laws don’t restrict truckers from spec’ing them.
Based on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Interprovincial Vehicle Weights and Dimensions, conventional dual tires enjoy a 9,100 kg per axle maximum weight. Under the same MOU, however, single tires are capped at 3,000 kg (6,000 for two tires on an axle) for most provinces — a restriction that makes it economically impossible to spec single tires.
Quebec is the only province to approve an increase to 9,000 kg per axle for singles on tandems, thereby allowing full parity between duals, for a fee.
Ontario has hiked its vehicle weight threshold for singles to 8,000 kg per axle on a standard 53-ft tandem trailer, closing the gap within a 1,000 kg. Last year, B.C. announced a weight increase to 7,700 kg, which still makes it tough to interchange equipment for Canadian operations, but makes sense for runs dedicated to the U.S. where the maximum load is 17,000 lb (7,700 kg per axle).
Atlantic Canada has been toying with similar plans for years. After consulting with experts and putting single tires through a series of new pavement damage tests, New Brunswick is said to be close to a decision on single tire reform. Nova Scotia is following that research closely.
The company expects the Waterville facility to expand X-One capacity by 50 percent, making it Michelin’s second largest truck tire plant in the world.
The expansion project at Waterville is supported by the Nova Scotia government and Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA). The project also includes the addition of a new building and equipment, an R&D component, and the employment of more technical and manufacturing employees related to the production of X One tires.
Michelin Canada currently operates two other plants in Nova Scotia: Granton and Bridgewater. Together, they make the company the province’s largest manufacturer.