One of the defining features of the original Mini could soon make a comeback as part of a novel bid to cut the cost of motoring.
Experts at Michelin believe tyres similar to those designed half a century ago for the iconic model would help boost the fuel economy of today’s city cars.
Researchers claim that replacing the 14-inch tyres fitted to cars like the Citroen C2 with Mini-style 10-inch covers trims wheel weight by 15kgs and allows changes to suspension components that add up to an advantage totalling 40kg.
“Less weight means greater efficiency and we think the economy savings would make the switch back to 10-inch size wheels and tyres worthwhile, particularly as advances in construction allow us to maintain all aspects of performance, comfort and longevity compared with the bigger size.
“Car makers are as keen as us to reduce motoring costs and we’re talking about this proposal to several manufacturers,” company product development spokesman Philippe Ricoux told Fleet News at the Challenge Bibendum event in Berlin.
Company executives are also about to start manufacturer discussions about Michelin’s latest advance in self-repair technology.
“Our scientists have discovered a new solution that makes the tyre totally resistant to punctures from any number of nails. It uses a secret formula that we regard as a major development.
“As well as lasting the life of the tyre, it has the major advantage of having no effect on driving performance each time a seal is required – unlike conventional solutions, which tend to form a mass around the puncture that often affects the balance of the wheel.
“We’re calling it the 3S concept and it’s too early to say how much it is likely to cost. We believe the concept offers major benefits in China and South American markets, which suffer from poor road conditions in general.
“But apart from the convenience factor, this development also saves weight and frees up extra interior space by making the spare wheel unnecessary – and those factors add huge potential to our arguments in favour of returning to the 10-inch tyre,” said M. Ricoux.
Author: Maurice Glover