The Magazine for LCV Fleet Operators
With the nights closing in and the clocks turning back, fleet managers may well be thinking of changing summer tyres to winter rubber across... A tyre for all seasons

With the nights closing in and the clocks turning back, fleet managers may well be thinking of changing summer tyres to winter rubber across their van fleets. Being able to get to customers in all weathers, safely and on time, can more than make up for the additional cost of a second set of wheels and tyres. 

However, while a full winter tyre may be an essential for a company working in more remote locations, it could be considered slightly over the top for a service provider in a city in the south-east. Increasingly, an all-season tyre may be a better proposition. That’s certainly the message from Michelin, with the French tyre giant recently launching an Agilis CrossClimate tyre, specifically for the van market.

The Agilis CrossClimate is available in 32 sizes, across 15, 16 and 17” diameters, to cover most common van models. The tyres will be suitable for any van with the correct load index, including the latest electric models.

“As long as the tyre meets the requirements of load and speed for the vehicle, and the choice does not contravene any instructions from the van manufacturer, then it’s absolutely fine to fit them to an electric van,” said Brian Porteous, technical manager at Michelin. “Electric vans tend to prioritise driving range over performance, so the torque output is well within the operating range of the Agilis CrossClimate, which still offers relatively low rolling resistance, in addition to its high levels of all-weather traction and long-life performance.”

All eventualities

An all-weather tyre is not just the preserve of larger fleets or off-road contractors. Having a single tyre that covers all eventualities is equally important for a smaller business.

“A plumber needs all sorts of tools – a spanner, blow torch, hammer, pipe bender – but not every tool is needed every single day. However, when that tool is required, it must be there and it must be reliable,” said Porteous.

“The van and the tyres are the same. If the weather is poor and the van is not mobile, the job doesn’t get done, so it doesn’t matter if all the other tools are in the van or not. When the weather is poor, it is even more important that the tradesman can get to the job, because it is cold and wet for their customer. Reputations are made on the ability to respond to difficult calls.”

While changing a full set of tyres might be a daunting prospect, particularly across a number of vans, there are longer term savings to be made.

“The main advantage is value for money,” said Porteous. “Agilis CrossClimate tyres are robust, damage resistant, last a long time and provide consistent performance, right down to the wear-limit indicator. That translates into considerably less downtime over the lifetime of the vehicle, as well as lower running costs, something which is enhanced by their relatively low rolling resistance too. 

Innovative

“On top of that, when the weather turns wintry or a van needs to drive across muddy, grassy or slippery surfaces, Agilis CrossClimate’s innovative tread pattern and unique rubber compound, which stays compliant even in very cold conditions, greatly reduces the risk of the van losing traction and getting stuck or damaged, which can result in expensive and time-consuming recovery and repairs.”

Traditionally, anyone using a winter, or more off-road tyre, will have found that the vehicle can use slightly more fuel, or make more road noise. But Michelin insists that the same is not necessarily the case for an all-weather tyre.

“In theory, that is true because the tread blocks are more open and more mobile, in order to grip the road. However, the Agilis CrossClimate is designed with innovative sipes and groove patterns, which allow the tyre to grip the road surface in poor weather but lock the blocks together when used harder in dry conditions – reducing wear and rolling resistance. Most tyres in the range are rolling resistance Grade C, which is very impressive for a snow-rated tyre,” said Porteous.

“Agilis CrossClimate also delivers very similar mileage to the Michelin summer van tyres, in some cases even more, thanks to the tread design. Michelin invests heavily in research and development every year and the Agilis CrossClimate has been specifically designed to provide proven winter performance, without the trade-off of damaging its wear life.”

Tyre check list

  1. Set tyre pressures to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations
  2. Visually check for bulges, cuts, excessive cracking or other damage or unusual signs
  3. Move the vehicle to expose the part of the tyre that has been in contact with the ground and carry out the same visual checks. Flat patches can create internal weakness, which can lead to failure in use
  4. Check tread depth. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm around the entire circumference of the tyre in a band making up 75% of the tyre’s breadth

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