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Michelin at the Paris motorshow 2016

Long-lasting performance Michelin tires offer the same performance from the first mile to the last

Clean transport and road safety are everyone’s concern. While some manufacturers are lobbying for tires to be replaced as soon as the tread depth reaches 3 or 4 mm, Michelin, the world’s leading tire company, maintains that the current legal limit of 1.6 mm is perfectly suited to the challenges of modern motoring.

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Michelin markets tires that ensure optimum safety throughout the tire’s longer lifespan, and save fuel due to limited rolling resistance. This is the only way of limiting excessive raw material consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, whilst allowing motorists to use their tires longer in total safety.

Michelin’s winter tires, such as the Pilot Alpin with its full-depth 3D sipes or the MICHELIN CrossClimate, a summer tire also approved for winter use in regions where winter tires are mandatory, guarantee maximum effectiveness right down to the statutory minimum of 1.6 mm.

Michelin reaffirms its opposition to a change in the legislation on this matter, for four reasons:

1 / Safety

  • Current legislation, which dates back to 1989, was based on performance levels at the time. In view of the progress made in the tire world, the majority of products on the market today are logically superior.
  • At present, no statistics establish a link between an increase in the number of accidents and the fact that the tire tread on the vehicles involved was less than 4 mm deep.
  • Braking distances depend on a wide range of factors. The braking system, ABS sensors, road surface texture, weather (humidity and temperature), tire pressure and temperature, and the driver’s actions all play a significant part alongside the tire’s intrinsic qualities.
  • When new, tires can already exhibit large differences in performance between brands and manufacturers, models and dimensions. Premium tires may, with a tread depth of 1.6 mm, be more efficient than a new budget tire.
  • It is known that a new tire on a vehicle does not really exist. In its first miles, the tire starts to wear. Michelin ensures all of its tires offer a high level of performance across all criteria to the wear indicator at 1.6 mm, that is to say after several years and tens of thousands of miles.

2 / Cost

  • Replacing tires as soon as the tread depth reaches 3 or 4 mm inevitably means doing so more frequently, which represents a significant increase in running costs for the motorist. This is unacceptable at a time when the opposite should be true as a result of the progress made in tire technology, even before improvements to the vehicle itself are considered.
  • Changing a tire with 3 or 4 mm of tread remaining, instead of 1.6 mm, equates roughly to an extra tire per car every two years. It is a scenario that motorists would not be prepared to entertain.
  • It would also have a notable impact on professionals and corporate fleets as a result of the higher total cost of ownership. The monthly payments associated with contract hire and leasing schemes would rise, as would the terms of the increasingly popular PCP (personal contract purchase) schemes for private buyers.

3 / Ecology

  • Numerous materials and a certain amount of energy are required to make a tire. The more material used, the greater the impact will be on the environment. Tires should therefore be replaced as late as possible to avoid overconsumption of raw materials and the energy used in manufacturing them.
  • Rolling resistance, responsible for 20% of a cars’ fuel (or electric power) consumption, improves with wear. Michelin considers that replacing tires prematurely would see annual fuel consumption rise by 900 million liters, and carbon dioxide emissions by 3 million tonnes – or 9 million if we were to add the loss of material caused by premature tire replacement. This is equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of the city of Birmingham, the second city of the UK.
  • Recycling is also heavy on energy consumption and the more material we have to recycle, the lower our overall sustainability performance. Increasing the legal minimum tread depth Europe-wide from 1.6 mm to 3 mm would amount to 1.5 million tonnes of raw materials wasted annually, equating to an energy demand of 290 million tonnes of crude oil, that is to say, more than the annual production of Mexico and Venezuela combined.
  • Le recyclage est également énergivore. Et plus on a de matière à recycler, moins on est performant sur l’aspect durable de l’écologie. Sur le parc automobile européen, passer de 1,6 mm à 3 mm correspondrait chaque année à plus de 1,5 million de tonnes de matières premières gaspillées, soit une demande énergétique de 290 millions de tonnes de pétrole brut, c’est-à-dire plus que la production annuelle du Mexique et du Venezuela réunis.

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