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Michelin (full name: Compagnie Générale des Établissements Michelin) (Template:Euronext) based in Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne région of France, is primarily a tyre manufacturer. However, it is also famous for its Red and Green travel guides, for the Michelin stars the Red Guide awards to restaurants for their cooking, for its road maps, and for its historic emblem Bibendum, the Michelin Man.

The tyre manufacturing subsidiary is officially called Manufacture Française des Pneumatiques Michelin, "Michelin tyre manufacturing company of France." Michelin's North American headquarters are located in Greenville, South Carolina.


Incorporated on May 28 1888, Michelin's activities date back to 1830 in vulcanized rubber, before they moved into tyres for bicycles and later for cars. Michelin owned the automobile manufacturer Citroën between 1934 and 1976.

Michelin has made a number of innovations to tyres, including in 1946 the radial tyre (then known as the "X" tyre). [1]

In 1988, Michelin acquired the tyre and rubber manufacturing divisions of the American B.F. Goodrich Company founded in 1870. Two years later, they bought out Uniroyal Inc., founded in 1892 as the United States Rubber Company.

Formula One

Michelin stopped supplying Formula One teams in 1984 but returned to Formula One in 2001. In that first year they supplied Williams, Jaguar, Benetton (renamed Renault in 2002) and Prost. Toyota joined F1 in 2002 with Michelin tyres and McLaren and Minardi also signed up with the company. Michelin's tyres were initially uncompetitive compared to rival Bridgestone's, however by 2005 Michelin were totally dominant. This was in part due to new regulations stating that tyres must last the whole race distance (and qualifying) and also due to the fact with only one top team running Bridgestone tyres (Ferrari), they alone were responsible for much of the development work. Michelin in contrast had much more testing and race data due to the larger number of teams running their tyres.

Following the 2005 United States Grand Prix, where Michelin would not allow the Formula One teams it supplies to race due to safety concerns, Michelin's share price fell by 2.5% (though it recovered later the same day). On June 28, Michelin announced that it would offer compensation to all race fans who had purchased tickets for the Grand Prix. The company committed to refunding the price of all tickets for the race. Additionally, they announced that they would provide 20,000 complimentary tickets for the 2006 race to spectators who had attended the 2005 event.

Michelin have had a difficult relationship with the sport's governing body (the FIA) since around 2003 and this escalated to apparent disdain between the two parties during the 2005 season. The most high profile disagreement was the United States Grand Prix and the acrimony afterwards. Michelin criticised the FIA's intention to move to a single source (i.e one brand) tyre from 2008 and threatened to withdraw from the sport. In a public rebuke FIA President Max Mosley wrote "There are simple arguments for a single tyre and if (Michelin boss Edouard Michelin) is not aware of this he shows an almost comical lack of knowledge of modern Formula One." Another disagreement has been the reintroduction of tyre changes during pit-stops from 2006. Michelin criticised the move claiming "this event illustrates F1's problems of incoherent decision-making and lack of transparency." [2]

In December 2005 and as a result of the difficult relationship with the sport's governing body, Michelin announced they will not extend their involvement in Formula One beyond the 2006 season. [3]

Recent Developments

Pax System, Tweel, X One


Bibendum (The Michelin Man)

The company's symbol is Bibendum, the Michelin Man, introduced in 1898 by French artist O'Galop (pseudonym of Marius Rossillon), and one of the world's oldest trademarks. André Michelin apparently commissioned the creation of this jolly, rotund figure after his brother, Édouard, observed that a display of stacked tyres resembled a human form. Today, Bibendum is one of the world's most recognized trademarks, representing Michelin in over 150 countries.

The 1898 poster showed him offering the toast Nunc est bibendum ("Cheers!" in Latin) to his scrawny competitors with a glass full of road hazards, with the title and the tag "'À votre santé': Le pneu Michelin boit l'obstacle" ('Cheers!': The Michelin tyre soaks up obstacles). It is unclear when the word "Bibendum" came to be the name of the character himself. At the latest, it was in 1908, when Michelin commissioned Curnonsky to write a newspaper column signed "Bibendum".

The name of the plump tyre-man has entered the language to describe the appearance of someone obese or wearing comically bulky clothing: "How can I wrap up warm without looking like the Michelin Man?". In Spain, michelín has acquired the meaning of the "tyres" or folds of fatty skin around the waist.

His shape has changed over the years. O'Galop's logo was based on bicycle tyres, and wore glasses and smoked a cigar. By the 1980's, Bibendum was being shown as a running Bib, and in 1998, a slimmed-down version became the company's new logo; his vision had improved, and he had long since given up smoking. The slimming of the logo reflected both lower-profile, smaller tyres on sport compact automobiles and a more athletic, slimmer, and trimmer Bib.

Bibendum made a brief guest appearance in the Asterix series as the chariot wheel dealer in certain translations, including the English translation, of Asterix in Switzerland. (The original French version used the Gaulish warrior mascot of French service station company Antar.)

Other products

Tour guides

Michelin has long published two guidebook series, the Red Guides to hotels and restaurants and the Green Guides for tourism. It now publishes several additional guides as well as digital map and guide products. The city maps in both the Red and the Green guides are of high quality, and are linked to the smaller-scale road maps.


Michelin publishes various series of road maps, mostly of France but also on European countries, Africa, Thailand and the United States.


From 1999 the company was headed by CEO Édouard Michelin. On May 26, 2006, Édouard drowned while fishing near the island of Sein, off the coast of Brittany. [4].

The death of Édouard Michelin has brought a non-member of the Michelin family, Michel Rollier, to the head of the company. [5].


External links