London - When they were launched well over a decade ago, runflat tires seemed an attractive offering – enabling cars to run safely for many miles on a puncture. This capability, moreover, could eliminate the need to carry a spare tire – reducing weight and offering new design possibilities for vehicle manufacturers.
Problems with ride comfort, rolling resistance and replacement costs, though, meant runflats never really took off and were generally consigned to some fairly niche segments of the market.
Over recent years, though, improvements to the tire compounds, reinforcement technologies as well as to tread and sidewall designs have overcome most of these problems for OE fitments – though the cost of replacement has remained an issue.
But change is now happening on that front.
This week, for example, has seen the launch by Maxxis of the M36+ runflat tire in Europe – its first ever runflat for the aftermarket in the region – two years after its introduction in China.
The European launch represents a “huge step forward” for Maxxis, according to Lenny Lee managing director of international sales at Maxxis.
“Until now, our dealers have only been able to offer customers premium brands runflat tires,” said Lee, noting that the M36+ offered customers "a high quality, mid-range alternative.”
The launch follows on from Bridgestone’s European introduction of DriveGuard - a premium touring tire which can be driven in deflated condition at 80km/hr for 80km.
Billed as a “game-changer” for the replacement market, DriveGuard offers higher performance ratings than conventional runflats under the EU tire labelling scheme: it carries an A rating for wet grip performance and C rating for rolling resistance.
Another selling point is that the new tire can be fitted to most cars equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) devices – mandatory on new cars in Europe since November 2014.
The emergence of these products for different segments of the aftermarket complete a missing part of the runflat "jigsaw" and support to the view that this extended mobility option is set to gain much wider acceptance in the market.
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