what is its Michelin connected tire used for?

The Tesla Model S Plaid with 21-inch Arachnid rims is the first passenger car fitted as original equipment with a new Michelin connected tire. They bring new features to the electric supercar.

Tesla Model S Plaid-00001

On Wednesday August 3, Tesla opened orders in France for the Tesla Model S Plaid, its new 100% electric supercar. The opportunity to come back to a novelty presented in preview by Michelin at Tesla Owners Day 2022, an event organized by the Tesla Owners Club France, which looked like 200 Tesla on the Michelin site in Clermont-Ferrand.

If we tried a Tesla Cyberquad for Kids there, unfortunately there was no new Model S Plaid. We were able to discover, however, one of its novelties, before its official announcement: its new Pilot Sport 4S connected tire from Michelin.

The 1ers connected tires for passenger cars

The manufacturer has just created the Michelin Connected Technologies brand, but it launched its first connected tire more than 20 years ago, for giant trucks used in the mining industry.

The Formula E championship has also been using connected tires for a few years. They allow racing authorities to control that participants are not lowering tire pressure excessively, to the benefit of performance, but at the expense of safety.

With the Tesla Model S Plaid fitted with the optional 21-inch Arachnid rims (but not with the standard 19-inch Tempest rims), the Michelin connected tire is entering the passenger vehicle market.

Beyond the Pressure

In concrete terms, a Michelin “connected tyre” is a tire inside which an 8-gram miniature sensor has been fixed. For the anecdote, the centrifugal force makes it undergo several thousand G at high speed (at 130 km/h and a fortiori at the top speed of 320 km/h of a Model S Plaid), so much so that it weighs several kilograms. Denis Martin, program manager, explains to us, without however specifying how, that it is necessary to compensate for the 8 grams of the sensor on the other side of the tire.

Michelin Pilot Sport 4S BLE

This sensor is an evolution of the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), attached to the rim, which it is intended to replace. On the Model S Plaid, it does not replace it yet. It transmits to the car, via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), the tire model, its temperature and its movements (accelerometer).

Denis Martin was not authorized to tell us what Tesla does with this information. But we can assume, to begin with, that the car can adapt to the tires fitted, for example to reserve accelerations and maximum speeds for certified tires. We can otherwise assume that the movement sensors make it possible to more finely measure the traction on each of the four wheels in order to more effectively adjust the distribution of the torque (torque vectoring), and therefore improve performance.

So we wouldn’t be surprised if Tesla subsequently markets connected winter tires, to which the car will adapt to improve traction on slippery surfaces.


New functions to come

Michelin is also developing additional functionalities.

The measurement of the load, on the one hand, that is to say the weight (and its distribution). This will be very useful in the transport sector, but it will also allow electric passenger cars to refine their consumption and autonomy calculations, which are still critical.

And measuring the thickness of the tire on the other hand, which will measure the wear of the tire.


Towards a democratization

The Tesla Model S Plaid with the optional 21-inch Arachnid rims is therefore the first passenger car equipped with Michelin connected tires. In this case, it is equipped with a variant of the Pilot Sport 4S, with the “BLE” option as well as the acoustic option (a band reducing noise).

But Michelin wants to generalize this innovation. Denis Martin says he has already signed with a British manufacturer, without however being able to specify which one (Land Rover? Jaguar?).

The connected tire should not remain reserved for very high-end cars like the Tesla Model S Plaid (from 140,000 euros). According to his representative, a connected tire equipped with a pressure sensor does not cost more than a tire and a separate TPMS. It is not known how much the additional functions cost, but it can be assumed that they will amount to tens of euros at most.

On the other hand, it is in original equipment on cars designed to use them that connected tires are most relevant, even if their Bluetooth Low Energy connection makes it possible to consider using certain measurements on a smartphone application. At least until the technology becomes widespread, such as TPMS. Competitors are already developing equivalent solutions, which will certainly contribute to their democratization…

Finally, it should be noted that Michelin has already provided a second life for these sensors: when the tires are worn out, they can be recycled in logistics, to ensure the tracking of goods.

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