NOKIA, FinlandGroup Michelin is denouncing claims by Nokian Tyres P.L.C. that the use of specially made tires to improve results in tire-tests was common practice in the industry.
Michelin's comments were in response to an acknowledgement recently by Nokian that it had engaged in providing bespoke tires to testing centers in order to achieve better results.
We admit that we are guilty of sending pre-produced tires for testing, sometimes half a year before their production started and sometime the tires were a bit different from the ones that went on the shelves, a company official told European Rubber Journal (ERJ) recently.
Nokian is sorry about this practice, which has been quite normal in the tire industry, he added.
Michelin, however, insisted it had never designed or manufactured tires specifically for tests conducted by the media, automobile associations or any other organizations, according to a statement released Feb. 29.
The French tire maker added that it had for years conducted reproducible tests that reflect real-life driving conditions using series production tires.
Michelin has always been committed to ensuring that the conditions used to test its tires faithfully represent the conditions encountered by consumers in their actual day-to-day usage.
Nokian's announcement came in the wake of a recent report by Finnish business daily Kauppalehti, which cited internal emails that alleged the company had been rigging test results for the past decade.
It is difficult to comment on those emails as we have not seen them, but all I can say is that our CEO discussed the issue with the magazine in an interview on Feb. 24 in a move to be proactive about it, Antti-Jussi Tahtinen, Nokian vice president, marketing and communications, told ERJ.
Last year, he said, we audited our operations. Right after that we clarified our rules for test tires which now specifically forbid any planning or manufacturing of tires that are targeted only for car media tests, said a statement by the tire maker in the aftermath of the report.
Speaking to ERJ, Mr. Tahtinen clarified that the practice had stopped well over a year ago. Nowadays, he noted, major tire testers procure their tires independently to avoid such issue.
The Nokian statement also stressed that its products have always been of high quality and safe, despite the practice. Also, it clarified that the company had never decided on such schemes that would encourage cheating in tests.
This story appeared on the website of European Rubber Journal, a United Kingdom-based sister publication of Tire Business.