PARIS—Michelin has expressed strong opposition to, what it calls, “lobbying for tires to be replaced as soon as the tread depth reaches 3 or 4 millimeters.”
In a Sept. 29 statement, the French tire maker said the current legal limit of 1.6 millimeters was “perfectly suited to the challenges of modern motoring.”
In terms of safety there has been no statistics to link an increase in the number of accidents and the fact that the tire tread was less than 4 mm deep, Michelin argued. Current legislation, it noted, dates back to 1989 and was based on performance levels at the time.
“In view of the progress made in the tire world, the majority of products on the market today are logically superior,” Michelin added.
Replacing tires as soon as the tread depth reaches 3 or 4 milimeters would mean more frequent changes. This, said Michelin, would significantly increase running costs for motorists. The practice, noted the French tire-maker, is “unacceptable” as recent advances in the industry are aimed at reducing the cost of driving for consumers.
Additionally, early disposal of tires would lead to more waste and impact the environment.
“Tires should be replaced as late as possible to avoid over-consumption of raw materials and the energy used in manufacturing them,” it added.
Another factor is rolling resistance, which improves by wear. As the feature is responsible for 20 percent of a cars' fuel consumption, Michelin considers that replacing tires prematurely would increase annual fuel consumption by 247 million gallons, and carbon dioxide emissions by 3 million metric tons.
Lastly, Michelin argued that recycling, which is energy-intensive, would lower the overall sustainability performance of the tire industry.
“Increasing the legal minimum tread depth Europe-wide from 1.6 millimeters to 3 millimeters amounts to 1.5 million tons of raw materials wasted annually, equating to an energy demand of 290 million tons of crude oil, that is to say, more than the annual production of Mexico and Venezuela combined,” the company concluded.