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28/08/2012
ENERGY SAVER+, BALANCE FIRST AND FOREMOST

MICHELIN TESTS NEW GENERATION ENERGY
Launched in Stockholm last month, the latest-generation of Michelin’s best seller has respectable credentials confirmed by Dekra during prolonged tests aimed at the simultaneous advancement of various performance aspects

Mino De Rigo

AFTER selling 35 million tyres, now that the new generation Energy Saver+ meets the European label, the Michelin Man company demonstrates that it has not changed the schedule fixed by its development plan. Gary Guthrie, car and light truck marketing director at Michelin, said: “We decided not to aim for a tyre specifically created for the European label, but to continue developing products with excellent performance overall”, once again emphasizing how important it is that “overall balanced performances that progress on the same level”. This is the philosophy behind the new Energy Saver+, the fifth generation of a tyre that has reached the twenty-year milestone. Energy Mxt made its debut in 1992 and there is no doubt that the difference in declared performance is striking. Starting with 40% greater energy efficiency. In the middle, 160 patents linked to improvements and 190 homologations by 22 car manufacturers. The leap compared to the previous Energy Saver is also remarkable with potential savings close to 60 litres of petrol over 45,000 km of average tyre life, according to tests carried  by Tüv Sud on the 175/65 R14 and 195/65 R15 sizes.

Efficiency and safety
A value that is more than triple that of a class “G” tyre, whereas the new French tyre is in the “B” class for rolling resistance. Contributing to the result, according to the company’s technicians who were at the product launch in Stockholm, is the new EcoGrip Compound, an optimized profile compared with its predecessor, which keeps the tyre cooler, and an internal liner that will contain energy dissipation and therefore lower consumption. It might be useful to remember that a fifth of the fuel is used to overcome vehicle inertia and tyre resistance to moving forward. As to mileage, the progress declared by Michelin is based in particular on the increased molecular cohesion of the compounds, to the advantage of greater resistance to wear. With regard to wet grip, the new Energy Saver+ is in the top “A” class, a result achieved thanks to the new compounds and to a 10% larger contact patch, factors that improve braking on the wet: translated into figures, 16 metres less (at 80 km/h) compared with an “F” class tyre, more or less the length of four city cars placed end-to-end. A development according to plan demonstrated by the previous Energy Saver generation, four sizes of which could also have been in the “BA” class (on the basis of the new catalogues that give the values of the label). The same applies to 44 of the new tyre’s 58 sizes.

Beyond conflicting performances
Guthrie reiterated the concept: “Labelling focuses on three values - rolling resistance, wet grip and external noise - but it says nothing about durability, grip when cornering or handling on dry surfaces, despite the fact that 70% of accidents occur on dry roads. This is why working on all-round safety and aiming at overcoming the fact that an excellent tyre that performs well on clean, dry roads is unlikely to do so in the rain. We solved this with the Michelin Total Performance approach”, for which 600 million euros is annually invested in R&D, which is also leading to the renewal of 80% of the Michelin Man range in two years.
With the commitment of 6,000 specialists, including materials technicians, experts in fluids mechanics, aerodynamics, acoustics and tribology, the use of over 400 software programs for 140,000 hours of computer simulation a year, 1.5 million laboratory measurements, 75,000 field trials, 96 million km on GT cars, 18 million km on light transport and 360 million km on trucks. It is interesting to note how the attempt to make up for shortcomings in improved tyre performance parameters can be linked each time to the diktat of the European label, the requirements of car manufacturers, the requests of consumers, and the needs of sport: focus is on exceeding the intrinsic conflict between wet grip and fuel saving, between the latter and dry grip, between dry grip and durability, between mileage and wet grip.

Endorsement by Dekra’s tests
For evaluating product performance” – Guthrie added – “we use independent experts. This was also the case for the new Energy Saver+: a 30,480 km test between Clermont Ferrand and Stockholm on roads and motorways with a considerable variety of surfaces and climatic conditions. A team of Dekra technicians drove about 500 km a day between April and June, interspersed with repeated checks of the tyres and the rotation of tyres and drivers, in Volkswagen Golfs fitted with the new Energy Saver+ tyres in the 195/65 R 15H size.
The Dekra technicians stated that “in the wet braking test in Berlin, after 18,000 km stopping distances for the new tyre were an average of 1.2 m shorter, fuel consumption projections for the entire life of the tyre were an average of 21 litres lower. The measurement of wear showed a total of 47,100 km for Energy saver+ (estimated up to the tread depth limit of 1.6 mm”. Already on the market, the new product replaces its predecessor in the available sizes (in a range from 14 to 16 inches).

Agilis+ promises savings in durability and robustness
For the first time Michelin has used silica in the compound for light truck tyres combined with functional polymers that mark a new frontier in performance for the new Agilis+. Characterized by grading up to the “CB” class (for the 235/65 R16 tyre), it promises more fuel economy, as expected by trades people and artisans who drive many kilometres for work and for whom the cost of fuel is increasingly a major part of their budget. An item that joins the main needs of commercial vehicle drivers: tyre longevity first and robustness second in a tie with wet braking.
Compared with its predecessor, Michelin declares savings in diesel in the order of 150 litres over 70,000 km, and stopping distances on the wet, based on Tüv Sud tests on the 196/65 R16 size, reduced by 2 metres. Lastly, greater resistance to impact with kerbs and potholes is given by reinforced sidewalls and eight different anti-scrape shields.

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