That somewhat hyperbolic statement could have some substance behind it, though, because the company's latest black rubber hoops have been engineered in a brand-new way to fight the bugbear of all tires: a steep loss in performance as they wear, a condition that's especially pronounced in wet conditions. Two of the enablers are ingredients in the rubber compound, one being "extreme amounts" of silica to enhance road adhesion, the other being sunflower oil to maintain the tire's flexibility and grip in cold weather. A new way of laying the rubber strands means the silica and sunflower get more evenly distributed throughout the tire.
One of the mechanical innovations is a groove design that gets wider as the tire wears down. As the depth of a tread channel decreases, which traditionally means a decrease in its ability to drive water away from the contact patch, the channel gets wider to make up for it. Furthermore, another set of more than 150 grooves beneath the outer layers are revealed as the tire wears, helping to keep wet-weather grip near brand-new-tire levels.
Michelin says a worn Premier A/S with EverGrip brings a car to a stop in a shorter distance "than a leading competitor's brand-new tires." The new treads go on sale in the spring in 32 sizes initially and come with a limited 60,000-mile warranty. Still interested? You can find out more about them in the press release below.
Revolutionary Tread Design Evolves To Maintain Grip Even When Worn
DETROIT (Jan. 14, 2014) – Today at the North American International Auto Show, Michelin introduced the MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tire with revolutionary new EverGripTM technology, which provides drivers with exceptional levels of safety even as their tires wear down. Even when worn, the MICHELIN Premier A/S with EverGripTM technology stops shorter on wet roads than the leading competitors' brand new tires1.
Available this spring, the MICHELIN® Premier® A/S tire combines hidden grooves that emerge as the tire wears down, expanding rain grooves that widen over time to continue to evacuate water and a unique rubber compound for increased wet grip.
"The MICHELIN Premier A/S tire represents a significant breakthrough in automotive safety," said Scott Clark, chief operating officer of Michelin North America's passenger and light truck tire division. "With our truly revolutionary advancements in tire technology, we are able to directly address the effects of tire wear on traction and have been able to break the traditional paradigm."
Tires rely on grooves between the treads to evacuate water and maintain grip with the road. Until now, tires traditionally lost traction in wet conditions as the tread became worn and grooves lost depth decreasing the tire's ability to funnel water away, increasing stopping distances and the chances of hydroplaning. Wet traction is particularly important for automotive safety because drivers are more than twice as likely to be in an accident on wet roads compared to dry roads.2
Unlike conventional tires, the MICHELIN Premier A/S tire uses a revolutionary design with a unique set of features to maintain wet traction even as the tire becomes worn. MICHELIN Premier A/S with EverGrip uses three main elements to provide this traction over time:
- High-traction Compound: MICHELIN Premier A/S with EverGrip features a proprietary rubber compound with extreme amounts of silica and sunflower oil. The silica provides the bonding strength and adherence to keep the treads on the road for high traction in wet conditions. The sunflower oil allows the tire to grip on wet roads at lower temperatures. These ingredients are mixed through an exacting process that ensures a consistent material contacting the road both when new and worn.
- Expanding Rain Grooves: In most tires, as the rain grooves lose depth, the amount of water they can funnel away from the tire is diminished. MICHELIN Premier A/S with EverGrip has rain grooves positioned around the circumference of the tire with a special geometric shape that gets wider as the tread wears. This helps maintain the amount of water that the tire can channel away even as these rain grooves lose depth.
- Emerging Grooves: Initially hidden when the tire is new, MICHELIN Premier A/S with EverGrip has another set of grooves along the tire's shoulder that emerge as the tire becomes worn. More than 150 hidden grooves emerge to provide additional help in channeling water away and maintaining wet traction as miles are logged.
"The MICHELIN Premier A/S with EverGrip is a compelling new safety technology that helps keep the driver in control and the car firmly planted on the road, said Clark. "EverGrip continues Michelin's industry-leading commitment to research and development of tire technology."
The MICHELIN Premier A/S with EverGrip will be introduced in the spring and initially will be available in 32 sizes (185/65R15 – 245/45R18) fitting a range of passenger cars including the Cadillac CTS, Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Toyota Camry among others. Michelin will offer a limited 60,000-mile warranty with MICHELIN Premier A/S, which will be manufactured in North America at Michelin plants in Lexington and Greenville, S.C., Ardmore, Okla., and Pictou County and Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.
The MICHELIN Premier A/S with EverGrip is the latest innovation in Michelin's long history of introducing breakthroughs in the tire industry. In 1946, Michelin introduced the radial tire – a special radial ply design now almost universally used in tires that makes them both durable and flexible. In 1992, Michelin was the first tire maker to use silica widely, silica gives tires low-rolling resistance for improved fuel efficiency and improved grip for performance.
Dedicated to the improvement of sustainable mobility, Michelin designs, manufactures and sells tires for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles, earthmovers, farm equipment, heavy-duty trucks and motorcycles. The company also publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases. Headquartered in Greenville, S.C., Michelin North America (www.michelinman.com) employs more than 22,000 and operates 19 major manufacturing plants in 16 locations.