Michelins Ladoux Technology Centre in its home city of Clermont-Ferrand is at the forefront of its 1.6mm tread depth push

Michelin's Ladoux Technology Centre in its home city of Clermont-Ferrand is at the forefront of its 1.6mm tread depth push

Michelin says society has to do something "now" to reduce the impact of rising global vehicle ownership and is citing its promotion of minimum tread depth of 1.6mm as it looks to convince the industry of its arguments and avoid planned obsolescence.

The French manufacturer insists a 1.6mm depth is consistent with safety and performance and is pushing back against suggestions the requirement should be either 3mm or 4mm, maintaining a lower figure will help offset rising car purchases.

"By 2030 there are going to be around 3bn vehicles on the road, more or less double the vehicle parc, [while] by 2050 more than 75% of the population [will] live in cities," said group COO, Florent Menegaux at the supplier's Aventure Michelin museum in its home city of Clermont-Ferrand. "It will be a real test at 4bn vehicles, a real test for the environment.

"So we have to do something. Mobility is really good for humanity, however, we need to reduce the impact of that mobility and it needs to be now. The Group has been been trying to develop suitable technologies both for individuals and society. Technology is the way forward."

Part of Michelin's battle lies with convincing consumers of a tyre's efficiency as it wears, insisting "new tyres exist only on shelves, not on the vehicle," while noting measurements are only taken on new brands, not used ones.

"Technology exists on the market to design a tyre that can perform very well on wet roads when it is worn," added Michelin technical communications director, Cyrille Roget at the museum right opposite the city's well-known Marcel Michelin rugby stadium.

"The limit is 1.6mm – we should all be focused on that to design a tyre to perform well when it is completely worn. It is our concern to fight this obsolescence. For that we need to test tyres when they are worn, not only new."

The manufacturer was speaking as it promoted its 'safe when new and safe when worn,' philosophy in Clermont-Ferrand, as well as its Primacy 4 tyre, first unveiled at last month's IAA in Frankfurt and which will be launched in January next year adding 18,000km compared to its competitors says Michelin.

Michelin also demonstrated several braking scenarios at its Ladoux Technology Centre near Clermont-Ferrand using new and worn premium and budget tyres to showcase its ideas. These include its insistence:

  • A worn tyre brakes better on a dry surface and consumes less fuel than a new tyre as well as a worn premium tyre can brake better on a wet surface than a new budget tyre;
  • In terms of safety and saving money, it is preferable to choose a good quality tyre and use it until the wear limit than choose a budget tyre and replace it early.
  • A new tyre's performance doesn't necessarily tell its performance once worn. That's why Michelin advocates testing worn tyres

Michelin also said wearing tyres down to their legal limit of 1.6mm reduces the environmental impact and saves one tyre per vehicle every two years.

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