DETROIT — Citing safety, performance, economic and ecological reasons, Michelin North America Inc. is calling on the vehicle and tire industries to consider adopting testing procedures for partially worn tires.
Noting that the automotive and tire industries typically focus on braking distance — especially wet braking — as a key safety-related performance factor, Michelin Chairman and President Scott Clark pointed out in a media briefing at this week's North American International Auto Show in Detroit that Michelin's internal tests show that worn tires are more unequal in their braking performances than new tires.
Mr. Clark stressed that "long-lasting performance" is an issue that involves consumer safety and environmental impact. Mr. Clark presented data showing that partially worn Michelin tires offer braking performance equal to or better than new competitors' tires.
While acknowledging that moving from Michelin-derived testing to independent third-party testing and eventually to an accepted industry standard will be a long and complicated process, Mr. Clark said the issue is "something Michelin believes that all of us need to start thinking about."
Mr. Clark said this proposal reflects Michelin's mission of sustainable mobility.
Such an initiative potentially could favor Michelin's bottom line, since the company has invested heavily in researching this aspect of tire performance for some time and incorporated this research into the Michelin Premier line launched a couple of years ago.
Michelin also pointed to economic benefits to this initiative, citing research by the research firm EY that indicates removing tires prematurely costs drivers more than $25 billion globally, accounting for increased fuel consumption and unnecessary tire purchases.
Early tire removal also wastes roughly 400 million tires a year worldwide, creating a massive impact on landfills and other end-of-life disposal networks.