Bluelight fleet managers from across the UK have put Michelin's CrossClimate tyres - the first summer tyres with winter capabilities - through their paces during a day of intensive testing.
The programme, at the MIRA proving ground in Warwickshire, involved testing the tyres in dry, wet and simulated ice conditions, using a special ceramic-tiled road surface.
Jamie McWhir, customer engineering support manager for Michelin, told assembled fleet managers that CrossClimate tyres provided a genuine alternative to swapping between summer and winter fitments.
After testing CrossClimate tyres back-to-back with a premium competitor’s summer tyres on various MIRA handling circuits, John Heussi, head of fleet services at Cheshire Police, said: “The difference in grip between CrossClimate tyres and the competitor’s summer tyres was much greater than I thought it would be; the CrossClimate’s ability to perform in all weather conditions is of huge interest.
“Combining year-round mobility in a product where the total cost of ownership is good, and tyre life is increased, is the perfect position for us.”
Scott Roberts, fleet manager at Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Performing back-to-back comparisons between the CrossClimate tyres and a competitor’s summer fitments was eye-opening.
“Fitting CrossClimate tyres could enable us to run a single tread pattern on our light vehicles year-round, meaning an end to swapping between summer and winter tyres.
"In some of our far-reaching rural locations we have to bring vehicles in from up to 100 miles away just to change the tyres.
"There would be a significant cost saving in the logistics alone, and that’s before we look at the CrossClimate’s increased longevity.”
Glynn Richardson, fleet manager at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “When our drivers get into a car they expect safety, reliability and performance from their tyres, and the CrossClimate tyres demonstrated delivered this over a range of surfaces and conditions.
"In the dry, there was no discernible reduction in performance to the premium summer tyres, however in wet conditions with reduced grip there was a marked difference with the CrossClimate tyres performing significantly better than the competitor.
“We have struggled to justify dedicated winter tyres because of the storage and cost implications; this tyre eliminates these issues and will be introduced into the fleet.”
Rob Lashley, fleet client manager at Emergency Services Fleet Management, a joint venture supporting Humberside Police and Humberside Fire & Rescue Service, added: “Moving away from having both summer and winter tyres presents a great cost-saving opportunity – coupled with less downtime, longer tread life and fewer wheel interventions, as winter tyres aren’t always as robust.
"On the back of today’s testing I’ll be making a recommendation to our client to take some test sets.”
Michelin hosted the test day due to the large numbers of bluelight fleets currently switching between summer and winter tyres, coupled with the need for crews to reach incidents quickly and safely.
CrossClimate tyres are approved for winter use even in countries that require special equipment for winter driving, with the tyres carrying Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake (3PMSF) certification on the sidewall.