Pirelli vs Michelin: Who Makes the Better Tire?

When it comes to quality tires, there are two major brands that stand out: Michelin and Pirelli. But which one makes the better tires? In this article, we’ll take a look at both brands and compare their products. We will also discuss the history of each company and what makes their tires unique. At the end of the article, you’ll be able to decide for yourself which brand makes the better tires!

Also check out: Pirelli and Michelin Tire Deals (in 2022)

Michelin

Michelin’s slogan is “Total Performance” and that is exactly what they offer. If we focus on the whole experience of driving instead of just the grip of tires and handling alone then in that sense Michelin is a bit different than Pirelli. The brand has a strong focus on green tire initiatives, in addition to handling, quality performance, and an overall superior experience by providing safety, efficient fuel economy, and long durability.

World Endurance Championship one of the biggest major motorsport events around the world is also sponsored by Michelin. Michelin supplies tires to over 170 countries making it the second-largest tire manufacturers in the world. Although it does cost you huge, the brand gives you a guarantee that you will get exactly what you’re paying for.

Pirelli

Pirelli is often referred to as the prestigious tire brand, which is fair. Pirelli mainly focuses on making passenger-car tires and high-performance tires. That is why the Pirelli’s racing pedigree is something that you cannot deny. It also manufactures tires for some of the leading sports events around the world since 2011. Not only is this but it the sole tire supplier for Formula 1.

Their association with some major motorsports events and of course Formula 1 keeps Pirelli continuously striving for further innovations. The brand produces tires for several categories, including a motorcycle tire portfolio, a complete commercial truck tire lineup, and classic cars.

Pirelli vs. Michelin

We looked at what really matters when buying tires: quality, price, warranty, and picked a winner for each. Let’s get into it.

Quality

When it comes to quality, both Michelin and Pirelli offer high-quality tires. They both have great reputations and honestly you can’t go wrong with either.

For an unbiased comparison on quality, let’s look at the JD Power tire satisfaction survey.  The survey measures customer satisfaction in four areas: tire wear, tire ride, tire handling, and tire appearance. Major tire companies were ranked for four different tire categories: luxury; passenger car; performance sport; and truck/utility.

 MichelinPirelli
Luxury1st2nd
Passenger Car1st8th
Performance Sport1st3rd
Truck Utility1stn/a

As you can see form the table above, Michelin dominated, finishing first for each category. Pirelli came in a close second in the luxury segment, but finished a disappointing 8th in the performance sports car category.

Winner: Michelin

Price

Based on my experience shopping for tires, it always seemed like Michelin’s were priced a bit higher than comparable Pirelli’s.  But just to be sure, we compared  prices of the two brands for 6 different cars.  Pirelli and Michelin usually have different tire styles that fit a vehicle. The results show the range of prices for each brand.

 MichelinPirelli
2022 Honda Civic 2.0T Sport$245 - $316$220 - $345
2022 GMC Terrain FWD SLT (19")$233 - $243$219 - $290
2022 Tesla Model S (21")$351 - $409$473 - $513
2022 Volvo XC90 T5 AWD (21")$191 - $486$290 - $436
2022 Toyota Tacoma 4WD (18")$205 - $285$227 - $242

*Prices were retrieved from TireRack.com on 5/3/22.  They do not indicated current prices.

Looking at the results above, you can see that it really depends on the type of tire you’re buying.  But in most cases, Michelin offered a lower price tire than Pirelli.

Winner: Michelin

 

Michelin History

Ever since it was founded in 1889, Michelin has been one of the most innovative companies in the world. It was founded by two innovative brothers Édouard Michelin and André Michelin in France. Throughout the years, Michelin has made tires for  cars, trucks, bikes, motorcycles, and even space shuttles.

Michelin Innovations

Removable Pneumatic Tire: There was a time when if you had a puncture, you needed to replace the whole wheel. Michelin brothers came up with a solution and invented the removable pneumatic tire in the 19th century. It was the first and most important removable tire. Which made the whole tire changing hassle a lot easier.

Run-Flat Tire: Michelin also launched the first run-flat tire in 1934.  This tire is designed run long distances even after being punctured. The run-flat tire is now used on many high end vehicles.

Radial Tire: Today, most tires are of the radial type and this was one of the biggest innovations by the Michelin brothers as they were the first to innovate the inception of the radial tire. This innovation improved the overall durability, performance, high-speed stability, and fuel consumption of modern cars.

Michelin and Motorsports

Michelin has been involved in motorsports for over a century and has been the exclusive tire supplier for Formula One since 1997. The company has also supplied tires to other prestigious racing events such as the Indianapolis 500, NASCAR, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Michelin and Pirelli have taken turns supplying tires for the World Rally Championship.  Michelin was the supplier from 2006-2007. Pirelli then took over from 2008-2010, before Michelin again became the supplier from 2011-2020. Pirelli has been supplying the rally tires since 2021.

Michelin in Recent Years

In recent years, Michelin has been focused on sustainable development and reducing its environmental impact. The company has developed a number of green initiatives, including the Michelin Challenge Bibendum, which is a sustainability competition for vehicles. Michelin also offers a line of low-rolling resistance tires that are designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions.

Pirelli History

The company dates back to 1872 making it one of the oldest tire companies in the world. The Italian brand primarily manufactured scuba diving equipment and telecommunication cables but always worked with rubber.

Pirelli Innovations

Pirelli doesn’t have quite the same track record as Michelin when it comes to industry changing innovations.  But there were a few improvements worth noting.

In the early 1970’s, Pirelli worked with the Lancia Stratos to improve the tires used for their rally car.  The improvement was to increase the width of the rally car tire, which increased grip. Before this improvement racing tires were the cross-ply variety since it was a more reliable option, although they had great grip, cross-ply tires were also heavy, limiting performance.

The Italian tire maker also produced tires for the fastest form of motorsport in the world, Formula 1. They also participated in many racing series with its P Zero line-up tires.

Next we’ll look at the type of tires each brand produces and cover some of their most popular tires.

Michelin Tire Categories and Popular Models

1. Passenger-Car Tires

Defender – it is a tired family designed by the Michelin, of exploring and highway tires for crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. This tire family is mainly famous for its safe traction on most surfaces, exceptional durability, and high levels of comfort.

Primacy – intentionally designed for highway users, this range of tires is specially made for exploring and grand-touring vehicles. These tires are mostly made to be used by models like compact cars, sedans, and minivans. This tire family is famous for its high level of traction in dry and wet conditions.

Premier – this range of tires is somehow of a successor to the primary line. Designed by Michelin these are also touring and grand-touring. Throughout the life of the tire, you can expect you can accept excellent performance, great comfort, and durability. It is worth the price.

Cross Climate – with a slightly larger focus on winter season performance it’s a family of tires for almost every season. You can have a look at the Michelin Agilis CrossClimate Review to learn more about the CrossClimate tires.

Pilot Sport – from the name you can tell it’s a lineup of high-performance tires produced by Michelin. This tire does directly competes with the Pirellis P zero family of tires. These tires offer you outstanding grip and responsiveness which is a basic need for a sport or high-performance car.

Latitude and Alpin – it’s the winter family tire designed by Michelin, which of course gives you excellent performance especially in snow, ice and slush.

See also: Michelin Defender vs Premier: Which is the Better Tire?

2. Motorcycle Tires

Michelin has perhaps the most exhaustive portfolio of motorcycle tires on the market. This exhaustive list of tires contains Enduro, MX, sport touring. Sport, trail, Cruiser, Roadster, trial, scooter, rally, and electric bikes.

3. Commercial Tires

The range of tires known for their durability and performance. Michelin also produces a family of vans, semi-truck, and buses.

Pirelli Tire Categories and Popular Models

1. Passenger-Car Tires

Cinturato – they are also a family of tires designed by Pirelli for both wet and dry surfaces. They are all-season tires. It consists of touring and grand-touring with safe traction on every type of surface. They are designed for a luxurious driving experience.

P Zero – The one that is loved by every motorsport lover. P zero is the family of high-performance tires for, also used in major motorsport events. Most of these tires are mostly come up with a summer tread compound, but some versions are all season capable. It has outstanding driving involvement and grip.

Scorpion Verde – This scorpion family consists of highway and all-terrain tires. This family of tires is available in all-season tread compounds. And is designed to maintain the balance between performance and comfort.

2. Motorcycle Tires

It also produces a vast portfolio of motorcycle tires, including models for off-road motorcycle, touring bikes, racing bikes, and scooters.

3. Commercial Tires

The Pirelli commercial tire family is not as successful as Michelin but they still have a few offerings in the commercial space.

What Do Michelin and Pirelli Offer to the Daily Drivers?

Well, both of them are also known for producing tires for everyday vehicles. Now that also does not mean that they produce cheap tires also the prices of their everyday tires are something that may put off most customers that are on a tight budget. But you cannot deny the fact that the innovation that they put into producing one of the finest quality tires in the world is incomparable.

What are the Qualities that Both Companies Share?

Pirelli and Michelin are connected by some common factors that are innovation, research, and development. There is no doubt that they invest tons in a lot of money and manpower to deliver the best quality product that everyone expects them to. Both the commercial and racing series are in somewhat of a competition. As a result of their competition both brands are producing high-quality products that are pushing other companies to innovate.

Michelin vs Pirelli: The Verdict

Well if we talk about the competition it’s just like every person has preferences over smartphones (iPhone or Android) and cars, some people have a favorite tire brand, and if you are talking about rubber tires then there are very few brands that are more legendary than Michelin and Pirelli. You can argue for days about who the best as both brands have a huge cult is following.

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