TYRE-maker Michelin has reacted strongly to calls from parts of the tyre industry to increase the minimum legal tyre tread depth from 1.6mm to 3mm.
The manufacturer has unequivocally rejected the suggestion and says there is no link between tread depths at 1.6mm and increasing accident rates and claims that changing tyres at 3mm would cost the motorist money and increase carbon emissions - especially as a tyre becomes more fuel-efficient as it wears.
An Ernst & Young report commissioned by Michelin found that changing tyres at 3mm instead of 1.6mm would cost EU drivers an extra â¬6.9 billion a year in unnecessary tyre purchases and additional fuel consumption.
Instead, Michelin is calling for a change to the tyre-testing regime to reflect wet braking performance at 1.6mm.
The French company says that modern tyre technology makes it possible to provide high levels of performance and grip from new, and through all of the tyre's life down to the legal tread wear limit.
According to Michelin, changing tyres before they are fully worn does not guarantee greater safety, and no current studies have established a direct link between accident levels and tyre tread depth.
Suggesting that tyres need to be changed before they reach the current legal limit or before the tread wear indicator is reached is akin to enforcing a form of planned obsolescence, says the company. Not only would consumers have to make unnecessary purchases, but this would also have an adverse impact on the environment.
Changing tyres too early would result in 128 million additional tyres being used every year in Europe - which would cause nine million tons of additional CO emissions.
This, says Michelin, represents a significant and unjustified increase in costs for consumers estimated at an extra 6 billion euros in Europe alone.