PARIS — Michelin said it has halted research on its Pax run-flat tire-wheel system.
"Today we do not intend to develop a new Pax simply because there is no big market demand," said Philippe Denimal, research director at Michelin´s Technology Center in Ladoux, France. "The market demand is insufficient to justify the expense."
"Pax is a long story for us," he said. "When we launched it, we were hoping for a big market development. In fact, the real market for zero-pressure tires is limited to some small percent of total sales in Europe."
Michelin unveiled the Pax system-which features outward-anchoring beads, a nonstandard wheel and a run-flat support insert-in 1997 as an alternative to more standard run-flat designs, which feature reinforced sidewalls.
Pax originally was dubbed PAV for pneumatique accrochage verticale, or vertically anchored tire, for the way the beads seat against the rim flanges.
Michelin´s strategy with Pax has been to seek original equipment fitments. In North America the company has achieved one significant OE fitment, with the Honda Odyssey passenger van starting in 2005.
Michelin North America Inc. provided new replacement Pax units and equipment needed to service the system on the minivan to more than 1,000 Honda North America Inc. dealers and about 200 Michelin dealers.
The firm also boosted its standard warranty on the Pax to include replacement for road hazards during the first two years or 50 percent of tread wear coverage.
Michelin also makes and sells a more standard-type run-flat under the Zero Pressure name.
As recently as two years ago, Michelin was touting the pro-spects of Pax. Don Baldwin, director of technical marketing for Michelin North America´s automotive division, called Pax "the standard of the future," while acknowledging its acceptance would be a slow process.
Michelin licensed its Pax tire/ wheel system to Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. and Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. And a technological joint venture between Michelin and Goodyear resulted in the development of a self-supporting version of Pax.
Working against the Pax system has been its weight, according to both Michelin and car makers. The Pax system on the market in 2005 weighed about 20 to 25 percent more than conventional tire/ wheel combinations.