Thierry Chiche, a senior member of Michelin's executive committee, told Goodwood Road and Racing in Paris last week: "It's a nonsense. There's no scientific evidence that there's more danger below a tread depth of 3mm. Twenty-seven years ago this tread depth was enacted, and in the meantime tyres have improved. It's also a nonsense because Michelins almost used are still safer than many new budget tyres."
Michelin currently guarantees the maximum effectiveness of its popular CrossClimate tyre, which is a summer tyre approved for winter use, down to 1.6mm.
Michelin has calculated that, if the tread depth was raised to 3mm, 1.5m tonnes of tyre materials would then be "wasted", as well as "900m litres of fuel wasted, for nothing, because when tyres are more used, they provide less friction and use less fuel [rolling resistance is responsible for 20 per cent of a vehicle's fuel consumption]."
Michelin also considers that CO2 emissions would rise by 3m tonnes a year, should the tread depth change, or 9 million tonnes if you take into account the increased manufacture of tyres to replace old ones earlier, which Michelin says is the annual CO2 emissions of Birmingham.
"It's a nonsense. We don't want to be throwing away more materials as a society. We are quite emotional about this", said Mr Chiche, adding, "If 3mm now, why not 5mm after three years?"