Michelin has created a light commercial vehicle tyre that it says performs with distinction all year round. Steve Banner puts it to the test.
Michelin claims to have created a summer tyre for vans and light trucks that performs just as effectively in winter and is a true year-rounder.
As a consequence, risk-averse light commercial vehicle operators will no longer have to endure all the cost and complication of switching to winter tyres when the first flakes of snow fall, then back to summer tyres once the white stuff has finally melted.
Following on from the CrossClimate+ car tyre, Michelin’s Agilis CrossClimate has been able to achieve this goal by using a well thought-out combination of materials and design, says Yann Chaylard, head of the company’s van and light truck tyre development platform.
What Michelin has done is take three different synthetic rubber compounds and combine them into one tread rubber. The most suitable rubber takes the lead at the appropriate moment and makes its presence felt depending on the prevailing road conditions. The winter compound comes to the fore when it is cold; the wet profiled compound when adherence to the road surface is low; and the dry compound when the highway is hot and moisture-free.
“We’ve created intelligent rubber,” Chaylard observes.
Making a key contribution to performance is the tyre’s big, bold and distinctive V-shaped tread pattern. Constructed with two layers, the tread is designed to minimise heat transfer through the tyre.
Its blocks contain bi-directional self-locking sipes intended to provide cutting edges that bite into snow and ice. Made in France and Poland, the Agilis CrossClimate comes with 3PMSF (Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake) marking, to signify they have been performance-tested for winter conditions.
As damage resulting from repeated scuffing against kerbs kills so many van tyres prematurely, Michelin has opted to protect the newcomer with a series of Game of Thrones-type shields: 1.5mm-deep trapezoidal-style blocks that run around the shoulder and upper sidewall. Along with the rubber such features are taken from Michelin’s all-terrain military truck tyre range.
“We’ve put in the additional thickness in all the right places while ensuring that the sidewall remains flexible,” says Chaylard. “We’ve increased the resistance to scuffing by 30% as a consequence.”