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Michelin showcases Selfseal at Challenge Bibendum

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Michelin demonstrated how its Selfseal technology works during its recent Challenge Bibendum event in Chengdu, China.

CHENGDU, China—Michelin used the Challenge Bibendum to spotlight several of its latest tire innovations, including its Selfseal technology.

The tire maker touts the technology as a unique rubber compound that plugs holes in tread that has been punctured, keeping the tires safe for the road.

Inside the tire, Michelin said, is a thin layer of rubber compound, composed of natural rubber. The compound surrounds the area and the object causing the protrusion, keeping air from escaping and the tire pressure at its previous level. Once the object leaves the tire, the sticky compound plugs the hole.

Michelin demonstrated this technology several times over the course of the three-day Challenge Bibendum, a global summit that focused on sustainable mobility issues, particularly in urban areas. During each demonstration, participants would drive Volkswagen passenger cars equipped with Selfseal tires over ramps with nails protruding from them.

According to a Michelin spokesman, all Selfseal tires performed as designed during demonstrations at Challenge Bibendum. The only tires to fail the test, the spokesman said, were standard tires, which were used on some of the vehicles to illustrate the difference.

Michelin said the greatest need for the Selfseal technology is in China, where one vehicle averages one puncture every 5,700 miles. In the U.S., Michelin said, a puncture occurs once in every 33,000 miles, while in Europe, the average is one puncture every 48,000 miles.

The technology is due to hit the original equipment passenger tire market in Europe in 2015. The technology won't reach North America for at least two years, the spokesman said.

In addition to the Selfseal technology, Michelin showcased its Premier A/S tire line, which it said offers better grip on wet pavement, even when worn; its Near Zero Growth technology, which the tire maker claims makes aircraft tires lighter and more durable; and its UltraFlex technology, which makes agricultural tires more flexible, thus reducing fuel consumption and limiting rut depth, according to Michelin.