New Michelin Agilis Offers Van Drivers Performance & Economy
In mid-March Michelin unveiled its latest tyre for medium and heavy commercial vehicles, the latest generation Agilis range. With certification to equip the Iveco Daily and Renault Master already secured and certification for Citroën, Mercedes and Peugeot currently underway, the replacement market debut sees the new Agilis initially available in 13 sizes. The line-up will be extended to 20 sizes by 2009, by which stage the new tyre will, reports Michelin, cover 95 per cent of the European cargo van segment.
The introduction of the Agilis comes at a time when the utility vehicle market is experiencing rapid growth throughout Europe, reports Michelin. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association vehicle registrations in the 25 countries of Europe, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, rose by 7.1 per cent in 2007 over the previous year. This represents a total of 2,245,062 registrations last year, versus 2,095,382 in 2006. By comparison, the number of passenger cars increased by 1.1 per cent over the same period. Forecasts show that utility vehicle registrations should continue to rise at least until 2009.
When designing the new-generation tyre, the Michelin Group analysed the needs of transport and delivery companies, and its studies pointed to three basic performance features: longevity, braking distances and robustness. The Agilis integrates Michelin’s latest Durable Contact Patch Technology innovations, and the tyre thus leaves a square footprint on the road. This minimises the distortion of shoulders and tread blocks, which are subject to stress in the contact patch as the wheel turns. Less distortion means less heating and, as a result, reductions in the amount of fuel consumed and CO2 emissions. Compared to the generation of tyre it replaces, the new Agilis can increase total mileage by 20 per cent, says Michelin. This represents an average of six months additional driving. At the same time fuel consumption is reduced by 0.2 litres per 100 kilometres – this means that after 85,000 km of driving with the new Michelin Agilis (compared with the previous generation Agilis), the user will have saved an amount equal to the price of one of the vehicle’s four tyres. And of course, lowering fuel consumption lowers CO2 emissions, 4 grams per kilometre in the case of the new Agilis.
The new Agilis was designed to brake in the shortest possible distances, especially on wet roads and in other situations where grip is diminished. Furthermore, Michelin adds, the tyre continues to deliver superior grip over time. Even when partially worn, the Agilis shortens wet-road braking distances by three metres when matched up against its predecessor. This improved performance can be attributed to the rubber compound integrated in the tread. Called the Durable Security Compound, this innovation was initially developed for Michelin’s car tyres.
While the first-generation Agilis tyre was already known for durability, the new Michelin model builds on this further. Researchers have focused on minimising the effects of sidewall curb scrapes in city use. Eight sidewall anti-scrape shields have been added to protect the tyre in all situations. These shields are combined with a reinforced casing. Together, these two technologies make the new Michelin Agilis even more robust.
Europe’s van market is evolving. Automotive manufacturers are designing and producing increasingly powerful vans (150 hp and over) that are not only more fuel-efficient but also equipped with advanced safety features, such as ABS brakes and electronic trajectory-correction and traction-control systems. Michelin reports that its latest Agilis line-up is fully aligned with the powerful changes that are reshaping the utility vehicle segment. And Michelin has also met future environmental requirements head-on.
As mentioned earlier, the new Agilis reduces CO2 permissions over the previous model by 4 grams per kilometre. These 4 grams are very important to van manufacturers. According to the future EU CO2 2012 Directive, emissions from vehicles in the N1 category (vans weighting up to 3.5 tonnes) must not surpass an average 175 grams of CO2 per km. In 2003, the European Commission set an average emissions limit of 203 grams for all utility vehicles. This means that by 2012 manufacturers must reduce average emissions levels of their line-ups by an additional 28 grams. Equipping their vehicles with the new Michelin Agilis enables a 14.3 per cent chunk to be immediately taken out of this target. reduction in emissions. by 4 grams out of 28. Therefore, the tyre represents a “plug and play” solution for vehicle manufacturers.
Reducing a tyre’s environmental impact is Michelin’s stated top priority for research and development programs for all tyre segments. Whether intended for cars, trucks or — like the new Michelin Agilis —utility vehicles, all Michelin Group tyres benefit from the nearly 600 million euros in resources allocated ever year to the company’s Technology Center.
Along with the new generation Agilis comes Michelin’s new Agilis Camping range. Modelled closely on the new Michelin Agilis, the Agilis Camping — as its name suggests — is intended for use on campervans, and provides campervan drivers with the same long tread life and safety performance as the rest of the Agilis range. The tyre features a reinforced, dual-casing architecture that allows for higher tyre pressure and protected sidewalls. Each sidewall features eight protective shields that increase curb impact resistance. The tread on the Agilis Camping includes 30 per cent more sipes and a 20 per cent higher void ratio than the Agilis. The rubber compound is suited to a wide range of temperature conditions, ensuring optimal grip when occasionally used in mud or snow, on dirt tracks or in other difficult driving conditions. All sizes in the Michelin Agilis Camping line-up display the CP marking, indicating that they are certified for use on campervans.