Changing tyres early is "unnecessary", says Michelin
One of the world's leading tyre manufacturers has hit back at recent calls from parts of the industry to increase the minimum tyre tread depth from 1.6mm to 3mm, claiming it is unnecessary and would only add millions of pounds a year to UK motorists' bills.
The backlash came after Kwik-Fit recently highlighted how almost three-quarters (73%) of the UK's police, fire and ambulance services change their vehicles tyres at a tread depth of 2.6mm to 3mm, and urged drivers to follow suit.
However, Michelin claims that it is not only a needless expense but that it could also add to driver's fuel bills, as one tank of fuel in every five is needed purely to overcome rolling resistance, but as tyres wear they become more fuel-efficient.
Michelin's research also reveals there's no link between tread depths at 1.6mm and increasing accident rates.
In fact, braking in the dry is actually improved with a more worn tyre as it offers greater grip.
In a press release put out by the tyre manufacturer, Michelin said: "Quite surprisingly we have discovered that some tyres worn to the legal limit have a wet braking distance virtually the same as some new tyres.
"Tread depth is not a good indicator of wet braking performance.
"Reinforcing our test results, recent independent studies have reported that there is no demonstrated link between accident rates and tread depth.
"And of course, thanks to the 6,000 people Michelin employs in its Research and Development activities, today's tyre technology makes it possible to have high levels of grip right down to the last millimetres of tread," it added.
The statement also goes on to point out the environmental impact of changing tyres early, as well as the 'unjustified increase' in costs for consumers.
In a refreshingly honest paragraph, the manufacturer explains that it could benefit from the proposed changes but says that 'sustainable performance' is the key to its business strategy.
It wants its tyres to be 'durable' and not 'disposable'.