Goodyear and Michelin, two of the world’s largest tyre companies, will cooperate to provide vehicle manufacturers and consumers with significant new choices in run-flat tyre systems, widening the usage of such systems which have been used on military vehicles for many years.
Recognizing the growing demand of consumers for increased comfort, improved handling and the security of run-flat capability, the two companies will cooperate in the research and development of advanced run-flat technologies through a joint venture based in the Netherlands. Run-flat systems will also provide the manufacturers with greater opportunities in vehicle design, use of interior space and styling flexibility. These innovations should lead to further advances in rolling resistance for reduced fuel consumption.
By sharing their considerable resources for this project, Goodyear and Michelin expect to dramatically accelerate the availability of advanced run-flat systems. Goodyear will license its extended mobility technology and pressure monitoring system patents to Michelin while Michelin will license the PAX System to Goodyear. These technologies will form the foundation for developments of future generations of run-flat systems.
One goal of the joint venture is to help address the concerns of drivers with regard to loss of air pressure. For many drivers, checking the pressure regularly can be an inconvenience (or some just don’t think about doing it). And for virtually any motorist, changing a tyre on a busy road or in an unfamiliar location can be worrying. Run-flat systems give increased security and convenience by enabling users to continue driving on a tyre that has lost its pressure until it can be replaced (such tyres are only for emergency use and cannot be used for extended periods).
At present, both companies already offer systems which provide run-flat capability. Goodyear’s is the Extended Mobility Tyre (EMT) launched in 1994. With EMT, if complete loss of air pressure occurs, the special tyre, with reinforced sidewall inserts and a low pressure warning system, allows a motorist continued operation of the vehicle until he or she can reach a service facility. This concept was designed to fit standard wheels.
In 1996, Michelin launched its PAX System which consists of four key features: a tyre with a unique bead lock; a run-flat insert that allows the vehicle to continue operating if tyre pressure is lost; a special wheel that accommodates both the unique bead and the run-flat insert; and a tyre pressure warning system. Today, PAX System has become a new standard.
Goodyear and Michelin are convinced, after an analysis of other tyre/wheel combinations, that the PAX System is the best platform for incorporation of future tyre concepts into new vehicle designs. Initially, Goodyear and Michelin will focus on accelerating the availability of the current PAX System. For those automakers who wish to have run-flat capability on conventional wheels, both companies will continue to propose solutions, utilizing EMT technologies and their improvements.
An important R&D joint-venture activity will be to exploit the synergies in exchanging their respective run-flat technologies to develop enhanced solutions. The agreements allow Goodyear to explore incorporation of its EMT
technology into the PAX System standard while Michelin will take advantage of Goodyear’s extensive background in run-flat technologies, including tyres, pressure-monitoring systems, run-flat inserts and lubricants. In addition, Goodyear and Michelin have agreed to promote PAX System, and its technical enhancements, to automakers.
In order to accelerate the widespread commercial availability of future run-flat systems to consumers, the companies have also entered into an after-market agreement. The companies will offer consumers easy access to interchangeable parts through a qualified global network of trained service technicians, when maintenance and service are required. To ensure vigorous competition, both companies will continue to compete in the sale of run-flat systems and the provision of after-market services.
Goodyear’s EMT sidewall is built to maintain its shape and driveability even after losing all air pressure. In fact, the tyre performs so well when it’s flat that cars must be equipped with a sensor system at each wheel to alert the driver to any loss of pressure.