Toyo Tyre & Rubber Co. Ltd. is to tie up with Europe’s biggest tyre maker, Michelin, in high-performance car tyres, the Nihon Keizai newspaper said on Tuesday according to Reuters.

The companies will share marketing and customer service networks, and jointly develop a “run-flat” tyre, which enables vehicles to run safely despite pressure loss and eliminates the need for a spare, the paper reportedly said.

“We are in talks with a number of possible partners for run-flat tyres, but it is not the case that we have concluded an agreement with Michelin,” a spokesman for Toyo, Japan’s fourth-largest tyre maker, told Reuters while a spokeswoman for Michelin Japan declined to comment on the report.

According to Reuters, the paper said Michelin, which is vying with Japan’s top tyre maker, Bridgestone, to establish the standard for run-flat tyres, hopes to gain an edge through the alliance with Toyo, which has a firm presence in the US market.

A deal also would give Michelin a stronger foothold in the Japanese market, where Toyo enjoys a market share of about 10%, Reuters added.

The jointly developed tyre targeting Toyota Motor — one of Toyo’s major shareholders — and other car makers will be produced in Japan and the US by 2005, the paper reportedly said.