Tires are a very important part of the automotive equation that is oft overlooked. Most of the time, innovation in this area is simply too subtle to report on. Michelin, however, claims they have a new tire that has “been able to break the traditional paradigm.” This tire, unlike regular tires, does not lose traction as it wears down.
As tires wear down, they lose tread depth. As a result, there’s less room for water to be channeled away from the contact patch, which increases stopping distances and the risk of hydroplaning in wet conditions. Michelin’s Premier A/S, however, has gotten around this problem by using grooves that become wider as they wear down. This makes sure that, even as depth is lost, they can still channel the same amount of water. To further mitigate the problem, Michelin added 150 hidden grooves to the shoulder of the tire, which become exposed as the tire wears.
The tire compound also received some special attention. Michelin has put significant amounts of silica and sunflower oil in the compound. The former allows for high traction in the wet, while the latter ensures traction in the wet when temperatures drop. These ingredients are mixed using a new method that ensures the material contacting the road remains consistent throughout the tire’s lifespan.
Once everything comes together, Michelin claims that the Premier A/S, even when worn, provides better stopping distances in the wet compared to leading competitors’ brand new tires. If that rings true, this is going to be a big step forwards for tire technology. The Premier A/S will go on sale this spring in 32 sizes, with a limited 100,000 kilometre or 60,000 mile warranty.