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Profile: Michelin CrossClimate

Michelin this week revealed the CrossClimate, which it claims is the first summer tire with 3PMSF (Three Peak Mountain Snowflake) winter certification

by Graham Heeps

 

The CrossClimate, which has been in development for three years, is born of extensive market research and aimed at what Michelin cites as the 65% of European drivers who do not switch to winter tires, as well as the 5% or so who unnecessarily keep winter rubber on the car all year round. However during the product launch in Geneva this week, the company was at pains to not call the CrossClimate an all-season tire, believing that the breadth of its performance goes far beyond what current European all-season products have to offer. Instead, CEO Jean-Dominique Senard described it as none other than “a turning point in the history of tires”.

The CrossClimate is the second product to feature the TTI Award-winning EverGrip technology, following its introduction in the Premier A/S for the North American market last year. However, insiders explained that other technologies provide the key for marrying summer tire-level dry-weather performance with winter-tire attributes.

A two-layer tread section features a new, high-silica, low-hysteresis undertread compound for rigidity and low rolling resistance (Michelin expects a ‘C’ rating on the EU label) combined with a more flexible top layer that provides grip year-round. The distinctive, beveled grooves of the V-shaped tread pattern (below) are claimed to provide good evacuation while maintaining rigidity. Sipes for grip on snow run parallel to, rather than across, the vees. These self-locking sipes have a sinusoidal cross-section and their configuration is said to improve dry-braking performance and the tire’s longevity, which is thought to be comparable to an Energy Saver+ summer tire.

Michelin recruited TÜV-Süd to independently verify its performance claims for the CrossClimate. The results include 100-0km/h dry braking performance at 14°C that nigh-on matches an Energy Saver+ summer tire (click here for a video), comes up 7.6m shorter than an Alpin 5 winter tire, and is 5.3m shorter than a Goodyear Vector 4Seasons tire, chosen by Michelin as being representative of the all-season competition. In further tests, the CrossClimate’s wet braking and lateral grip in the wet beat the all-season tire (Michelin expects an ‘A’ label rating for wet grip) while its snow traction matched the Alpin 5 at -6°C.

CrossClimate is destined for the European mass-market and, as such, the primary tire size employed during more than 5 million kilometers of testing was the popular 205/55 R16, which was fitted to test vehicles from the big-selling C-segment.

The European-made tire will initially be available in 23 sizes across 15-17in wheel sizes when it goes on sale in the aftermarket this May. There is no confirmation yet of possible OEM fitments, but further sizes, including for vans and SUVs, will be introduced in 2016, when production in France will also begin.

March 5, 2015

 

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