If you could win a million dollars just by answering the question "Who is the world's largest manufacturer of tires?" what would your guess be? Michelin? Goodyear? Bridgestone? Those are all good tries, but they're all wrong. Surprised?
Well you'll be even more surprised to know which company does make the most tires every year. It's LEGO. That's right. As a prolific maker of vehicles of all kinds, LEGO holds the Guinness World Record for being the world's largest manufacturer of tires.
The official record, per Guinness, is "Largest annual volume toy tyre manufacturer ever," and though it includes the specification of "toy," the numbers surpass regular tire manufacturers — 381 million in the year 2010 alone, which qualified for the Guinness Record in 2011.
LEGO produces a ton of toy cars and vehicles (as of 2016 about half of LEGO sets included wheels), so that means they produce a ton of LEGO tires to go with them. And even though none will fit your car, bike or motorcycle, Guinness notes, the LEGO tires are made of a rubber compound similar to tires on domestic cars.
Tires are a fairly recent addition to LEGO's extensive parts catalog. They were introduced in set 400, in 1962. That might not sound all that recent, but LEGO was founded in 1932, so it took 30 years for the first LEGO tires to become a staple product. Before that, plenty of LEGO toys had wheels, but not separate tires. (For more on LEGO cars, see the sidebar below.)
And if you love LEGO lore, the Guinness World Records is a great place to satiate (or spark) your curiosity. LEGO is included in a lot of records, including the largest private collection of LEGO sets and the tallest LEGO tower, to the ridiculously specific largest sundial constructed of LEGO bricks and the farthest distance walked barefoot on LEGO bricks. Most of these records are held by LEGO enthusiasts, but some are held by the LEGO brand.
Now what about the other tire manufacturers — those who trail LEGO in production? If we exclude toy manufacturers, as of 2019 Bridgestone leads the list, followed by Michelin, Goodyear, Continental and Sumitomo. Though the list of the world's 30 largest tire manufacturers includes companies from a wide variety of countries, none of them are based in Denmark, which is another way LEGO stands out from the crowd.