Research

Michelin partners with Maxion to reinvent the wheel

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© Michelin

Michelin in partnership with Maxion Wheels has developed a new technology to reinvent the wheel to help eliminate road-based damage to tires and rims.

The patented new technology, developed by Michelin and Maxion Wheels for the passenger car wheel market, incorporates two flexible rubber flanges mounted on a special wheel body to create a flexible wheel that improves the ride and comfort and also absorbs impacts from potholes and curbs. The new wheel is compatible with all tires on the market and comprises an alloy rim – which is narrower than normal, two rubber flanges and an optional cosmetic insert to protect the alloy wheel.

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Exploded view of the Maxion Flexible Wheel featuring Michelin Acorus technology. From left to right: tire, Acorus rubber flange, Maxion wheel body, Acorus rubber flange, and optional wheel cover or trim.

Talking about this new innovation, Michelin Chief Operating Officer, Florent Menegaux said: “Car wheels have been getting bigger and bigger, as they contribute to making cars look more premium, and large shiny alloys are an integral part of all modern car designs. However, the resulting low profile tires with short sidewalls are much more susceptible to damage on today’s deteriorating roads with myriad potholes.”

Pieter Klinkers, Maxion Wheels CEO stated: “This is a game changer for wheels; a standard wheel driven through a pothole can damage the tire and potentially crack the alloy rim, putting the safety of driver and passengers at risk. When the Maxion Flexible Wheel hits a pothole, the Michelin Acorus Technology flange flexes and protects the tire and the wheel.”

In tests with a 285/30R21 tire driven through a pothole, the standard rim version punctured the tire at 28kph whereas the Flexible Wheel with the MICHELIN ACORUS Technology did not puncture, or sustain damage at any speed.

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Maxion Flexible Wheel featuring Michelin Acorus Technology cutaway series demonstrates the flexibility, durability and robustness of the new innovative wheel. The Acorus rubber flanges are in yellow. From left to right: Normal State, Loaded State, and Deflected State.

In addition to damage reduction, safety and improved mobility, the Maxion Flexible Wheel with MICHELIN ACORUS Technology has other benefits for the driver. It helps overcome other shortcomings associated with low profile tires with short sidewalls – comfort and noise levels are both improved due to the flexible rubber flange which sits between the wheel and the tire. There is also an environmental benefit in using MICHELIN ACORUS Technology; the Flexible Wheel is designed to work with any brand of tire, including low rolling resistance tires – meaning lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy. The innovative wheel solution also means fewer damaged tires and wheels are being thrown away following pothole damage.

Michelin Acorus Technology is the product of Michelin’s research Group. The Incubator Program shortened the time to market by showing and testing it with customers. Having designed and developed this unique patented technology, Michelin started to work in partnership with Maxion Wheels, a leader in the wheel business, to bring the Flexible Wheel to market.

The name ACORUS is taken from Acorus Calamus, a wetland plant that looks like a reed, which features in a famous French fable ‘the oak and the reed’ with the wisdom that “a reed bends but does not break”. The Flexible Wheel not only safeguards against potholes and poor roads, but marks an end to the compromise in passenger car wheel design between robustness and premium look.

The Maxion Flexible Wheel with MICHELIN ACORUS Technology, launched at the Frankfurt IAA, will initially be sold in 19” and above sizes to the OE premium automakers by the partnership between MICHELIN and Maxion Wheels.

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