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Here's How the Ford Explorer ST Ended Up with Mercedes-Spec Tires

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 6/12/2019 Joey Capparella
a car parked in a parking lot: The Ford Explorer ST's optional Michelin summer tires are "Mercedes Original" spec. How did that happen? Here's the full story.© Ford, Mercedes-Benz The Ford Explorer ST's optional Michelin summer tires are "Mercedes Original" spec. How did that happen? Here's the full story.
  • The 2020 Ford Explorer ST's optional Michelin summer tires are "Mercedes Original" spec, meaning they were specially developed for an AMG model.
  • We talked to a Ford engineer and found out how this came to be.
  • Later this year, these high-performance tires will be a stand-alone option on the 400-horsepower Explorer ST.

A sticky set of Michelin Latitude Sport 3 high-performance summer tires are a stand-alone option for the new performance-oriented 2020 Ford Explorer ST SUV, and those with a keen eye will notice something a bit out of place: the letters “MO” on the sidewall. That stands for Mercedes Original, and it refers to a tire specially developed by Michelin in partnership with Mercedes-Benz for, in this case, the Mercedes-AMG GLE43 coupe. So how did this rubber end up on a Ford? On the drive program for the new Explorer, we found out.

Research the Ford Explorer | Look for a Ford Explorer in your region

a wheel of a bicycle: ford-explorer-st-mercedes-tire.JPG© Joey Capparella - Car and Driver ford-explorer-st-mercedes-tire.JPG

Ford Performance chief engineer Ed Krenz admits that his team decided to add a summer-tire option to the Explorer ST's order sheet late in the game. They felt that a grippier, higher-performance tire could make a big difference to steering feel and precision compared to the standard Pirelli all-season tires offered with the 21-inch wheel upgrade on the ST. When Ford Performance reached out to Michelin to see what it could provide, these MO tires were the only option that would fit the Explorer’s 275/45R-21 size.

These MO-spec Michelins come on the AMG GLE43 coupe, also wrapped around 21-inch wheels (the GLE43 pictured above has the larger 22-inch wheel option and Pirelli tires). It is worth noting that the Explorer ST has a square tire setup with the 275-width tires all around, while the AMG GLE43 has a staggered setup with considerably wider, also MO-spec, 315-width Michelin tires at the rear.

Research the Ford Explorer | Look for a Ford Explorer in your region

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