New steer tire makes – or reduces – a splash

by James Menzies

GREENVILLE, S.C. – There’s a certain amount of social responsibility attached to operating a trucking company.

You have little choice but to share your workspace with the motoring public, and as such it’s incumbent on you as a trucking company to be a responsible corporate citizen.

With that in mind, Michelin has introduced the XZA2 Antisplash – a tire that reduces the splash effect a truck creates when it passes through standing water.

“Michelin charges itself with the credo of social responsibility,” explained Michelin’s Michael Burroughes. “The target we have for this technology is highway fleets, over-the-road transport carriers, truckload carriers – people who are very emblematic of the American Trucking Associations’ for example. These are fleets that have a shared responsibility for their role in public safety.”

The Antisplash tire features a small rubber deflector along the sidewall, which reduces the trajectory height of splashed water by more than 50%, Burroughes said. It’s important to note, the new feature does not reduce the spray (or mist) that comes off tires when running down a wet highway.

“There’s nothing we can do as a tire manufacturer to defeat (spray),” said Burroughes.

However, when a truck runs through standing water 5 mm or deeper, the splash that results from that can be reduced by the Antisplash.

Initially, only the XZA2 steer tire will feature the Antisplash technology.

That tire is not in Michelin’s Canadian price book at this time, but it’s still available to fleets that request it.

The XZA2 will be available with and without Antisplash, so Michelin can determine market acceptance. Opting for Antisplash will add about a 3% premium to the cost of the tire.

The more widely-used and fuel-efficient XZA3 is not a viable option for Antisplash, as it’s a directional tire.

The rubber lip would have to be added to both the inside and outside of the tire to accommodate for wheel rotations, and this isn’t allowed due to the Rim and Tire Association’s strict width restrictions for truck tires.

Still, Michelin is optimistic the XZA2 with Antisplash will have its believers.

“A number of fleets have expressed interest because of their concern with public safety,” Burroughes said.

Testing has shown the Antisplash tire is robust enough to withstand the rigors of typical trucking applications, but it can be damaged as a result of curb scrubs.

Only the steer tire requires the Antisplash feature, as the first tires to run through a puddle create a path, reducing the amount of standing water the subsequent tires will encounter. The lip can be removed during retreading so the XZA2 can be relegated to the drive or trailer axles.

The deflector has no impact on aerodynamics or tire performance, Burroughes insisted.

In order to confirm the tire does what Michelin says it does, I had the chance to witness its performance first-hand.

I rode shotgun in a sedan alongside a tractor-trailer with and without Antisplash as it drove through a 7 mm deep puddle at 45 mph.

The truck without Antisplash completely soaked the windshield of our car, rendering us momentarily sightless.

The truck equipped with the XZA2 Antisplash steer tires still splashed some water onto the windshield, but far less water reached the height of the windshield and we were able to maintain our vision.

Observing the exercise from outside the vehicles further confirmed the effectiveness of the Antisplash tires. (See comparison photos below.)

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