Posted by keith on October 27th, 2008
Michelin sell tyres. Lots and lots of them: in 2006 Michelin sold about 220 million tyres, and tyre sales account for nearly 90% of all Michelin’s business. If it were not for tyres, Michelin would not exist. In fact, if it were not for replacement tyres, which account for 75% of all Michelin’s tyre sales, then Michelin would be but a small husk of its current behemothic self.
Michelin needs people to replace their tyres, which is why Michelin have begun a massive greenwashing campaign.
The advert above, if clicked upon takes the web user to a handy calculator. I tried it out on my rarely used car, a medium sized diesel estate which manages 40MPG (about 32MPG in the USA). Apparently, over the lifetime of a new set of Michelin replacement tyres, I could prevent 202kg of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.
Fab! So, let’s look at this a little closer; first, pausing for another commercial break…
You see, I don’t even have to leave my car at home to be environmentally friendly – according to the wording of the advert, it is just as good to drive. Really?
That 202kg of carbon dioxide needs looking at carefully. According to the UK Vehicle Licencing Office my car emits about 170 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre, so that means that Michelin tyres allow me to drive for an extra 1200km (720 miles) without emitting any carbon dioxide. But go to the “REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS” page, and you find that the per kilometre reduction in emissions is only 4%, which implies (a) the tyres last for 30,000km (that is utterly incredible) and (b) in order to get that 202kg saving I have to drive for 30,000km.
Let’s put that another way: Michelin are effectively saying — and are being pretty explicit about this — that it is environmentally fine to drive 30,000km in order to save the equivalent of only 1,200km of carbon emissions. That means that the remaining 28,800km (or 4.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide) has, in Michelin’s world, disappeared!
“Now you don’t have to leave your car at home to save fuel!”
There is almost nothing I can say to make this acceptable: that isn’t just greenwashing, it is a blatant lie! Maybe Michelin would care to explain how this remarkable advert ever came to see the light of day.