BMW Group has approved a Goodyear run-flat tyre for North American sales of its new Mini Cooper S model.

Mini USA, a division of BMW NA, recently chose 17-inch Goodyear Eagle RS-A EMT all-season run-flat tyres on the supercharged 163-horsepower 2002 Mini Cooper S. Manufactured in Fulda, Germany, the 205/45R17 tyre is V speed-rated for sustained speeds up to 150 mph.

Howard Steele, director of original-equipment tyre sales in North America, said that Goodyear business with the BMW Group will "boost our run-flat tyre market share substantially".

He added: ``The BMW Group has been aggressive in introducing run-flat-tyre technology on their vehicles. BMW understands the importance of run-flat tyres and tyre safety, and we want to continue our work with them to further improve tyre performance."

Earlier, BMW certified Goodyear Eagle NCT 5 EMT run-flat tyres 195/55R16 as a summer tyre option on Mini cars. A third Goodyear branded run-flat tyre is in development in Lawton, Okla. Goodyear's Dunlop brand also supplies original-equipment run-flat tyres for MINI.

By mid-year, more than 80 percent of all Minis coming to America will be on either Goodyear or Dunlop run-flat tyres.

Goodyear Eagle run-flat tyres are also an option on BMW's 3-Series imported to North America.

BMW has predicted that the United States could become the largest export market for the Mini, with 20 percent of its total output -- expected at 100,000 units this year - allocated for America.

Mini's run-flat tyres are engineered to fit on standard wheels and to run without inflation pressure for up to 150 miles at speeds up to 50 mph and a tyre-pressure monitoring system is standard equipment.

The tyre's strength comes from a reinforced insert in the sidewall. When inflation pressure is lost, the insert provides support to the tyre.