Mini tyre de­ci­sion falls flat

Much-crit­i­cised run-flat tyres could be run­ning out of puff, writes KEITH DID­HAM in Ger­many

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

THE fu­ture of con­tro­ver­sial run-flat tyres has been placed un­der a cloud of doubt, as one of their big­gest users changes back to con­ven­tional tyres on some of its mod­els.

Later this year BMW will switch to nor­mal tyres on pop­u­lar vari­ants of its Mini for in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.

For Aus­tralian Minis, the stan­dard 15-inch wheel will con­tinue to be fit­ted with a con­ven­tional tyre.

The larger 16-inch wheel, cur­rently shod with run-flat rub­ber and se­lected by more than 90 per cent of buy­ers, will also change to a con­ven­tional tyre. Run-flat rub­ber will now be of­fered as a $200 op­tion. The 17-inch wheel will re­main with run-flats.

Mod­els with con­ven­tional tyres will come with BMW’s mo­bil­ity pack, con­sist­ing of an air com­pres­sor and glue kit to make tem­po­rary punc­ture re­pairs.

The move ap­pears to be a cost-sav­ing mea­sure by Mini’s par­ent as the world­wide eco­nomic cri­sis hits home.

Sources within Mini in Ger­many say BMW, which has been pro­mot­ing the virtues of run­flats for years, has been dis­ap­pointed that ri­val man­u­fac­tur­ers Mercedes-Benz and Audi have not adopted the tech­nol­ogy.

Their added vol­ume would have re­duced the pro­duc­tion cost of the con­tro­ver­sial tyre for the motoring in­dus­try.

Run-flats are es­sen­tially a tyre with stiffer side­walls, which al­low the car to be driven if the tyre is punc­tured. They have been widely crit­i­cised for their harsh and un­for­giv­ing ride, es­pe­cially com­bined with sports sus­pen­sion set-ups.

The lack of a spare wheel of­fers sub­stan­tial weight sav­ings and wins back boot space.

At this stage the switch back to con­ven­tional tyres has not af­fected BMW mod­els sold in Aus­tralia, most of which use run-flat tyres.

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