Relief from pothole damage – Michelin and Maxion Wheels unveil their flexible wheel solution
Michelin believes it has helped reinvent the wheel. At the IAA motor show in Frankfurt, Germany, the tyre maker is presenting a new solution together with Maxion Wheels, a product the two companies believe will help eliminate road-based damage to tyres and rims.
The patented technology, developed by Michelin and Maxion Wheels for the passenger car wheel market, incorporates two flexible rubber flanges mounted on a specially-adapted wheel body to create a flexible wheel that improves the ride and comfort and also absorbs impacts from potholes and kerbs. The new wheel is compatible with almost all tyres on the market and consists of an alloy rim (which is narrower than normal), two rubber flanges and an optional cosmetic insert to protect the alloy wheel.
“Car wheels have been getting bigger and bigger, as they contribute to making cars look more premium, and large shiny alloys are an integral part of all modern car designs,” comments Florent Menegaux, chief operating officer at Michelin. “However, the resulting low-profile tyres with short sidewalls are much more susceptible to damage on today’s deteriorating roads with myriad potholes.”
Pieter Klinkers, chief executive officer at Maxion Wheels, adds: “This is a game changer for wheels; a standard wheel driven through a pothole can damage the tyre and potentially crack the alloy rim, putting the safety of driver and passengers at risk. When the Maxion Flexible Wheel hits a pothole, the Michelin Acorus Technology flange flexes and protects the tyre and the wheel.”
Michelin reports that tests in which a 285/30R21 tyre was driven through a pothole (80mm deep, 700mm long, 70° impact angle), tyres fitted to a standard rim fitted punctured at 28 km/h (17.4 mph) whereas the Flexible Wheel with the Michelin Acorus Technology neither punctured nor sustained damage at any speed.
In addition to damage reduction, safety and improved mobility, the manufacturers see the Maxion Flexible Wheel with Michelin Acorus Technology offering other benefits for drivers by helping to overcome other shortcomings associated with low profile tyres with short sidewalls. Specifically, comfort and noise levels are both improved due to the flexible rubber flange which sits between the wheel and the tyre. And as the wheel solution’s use will result in fewer damaged tyres and wheels being discarded following pothole damage, Acorus delivers an environmental benefit.
Michelin Acorus Technology is the product of Michelin’s research Group. The company’s Incubator Program shortened its time to market by showing and testing it with customers. Having designed and developed this unique patented technology, Michelin worked in partnership with Maxion Wheels to further develop the Flexible Wheel. The name Acorus, incidentally, is taken from Acorus Calamus, a wetland plant that looks like a reed, which features in a French fable, ‘the oak and the reed’, which delivers the wisdom that “a reed bends but does not break.”
The Maxion Flexible Wheel with Michelin Technology will initially be sold to vehicle manufacturers in 19-inch and above sizes. The plan is for production to commence in the second half of 2018.
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