Fleet News

Run-flat tyres to become the norm in new vehicles

A QUARTER of new vehicles will be sold without a spare wheel by 2008 as manufacturers shift to run-flat tyre technology.

Industry expert Steve Dolby, product marketing manager for Michelin, told members of the Scottish region of ACFO, the fleet managers’ association, the move would bring benefits for both vehicle design and also safety. He said: ‘Manufacturers can free up a lot of space which can be used for something else when they dispose of the spare wheel.

‘Also, drivers don’t have to use the hard shoulder to change tyres, which is a dangerous situation. On average between 1993 and 2004, 62 people a year were killed on the hard shoulder.’

Run-flat tyres are designed to allow drivers to continue for between 50 and 100 miles if they suffer a puncture by using tyre sidewall strengthening technology.

However, some members raised concerns that they needed a spare tyre because they did not have time during their working day to search for a depot to get their rubber replaced.

One member said: ‘I do 1,000 miles a week and if my tyre is destroyed then I want to be able to get back on the road straight away.’

But delegates heard that many fleets no longer allowed drivers to change their own tyres for health and safety reasons anyway.

One delegate said: ‘Although we would provide all our drivers with a spare wheel, they aren’t allowed to change it. If they have a puncture, they have to contact the fleet centre and they will send out the cavalry. It takes longer, but it is safer. It is far too dangerous for the driver to be doing it by the side of the road and there are other issues, such as refitting the bolts properly and getting the tyre off in the first place.’

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