If you think flat blades are the latest thing in wiper blade technology think again. The wiper blade market is changing and the latest technological evolution of the simple wiper blade is the hybrid wiper blade. Hybrid wiper blades combine the strengths of traditional blades (effective wraparound on curved windscreens) and flat blades (aerodynamic efficiency, reduced clogging, and aesthetics).
Global new vehicle introductions in 2012 indicate that some 33% of new vehicles are now fitted with hybrid blades, and this trend is continuing. In fact, hybrid blades are now the second most popular* choice OE fitment for new car models, pushing conventional blades down into third place.
Having cornered the market for tyres, automotive giant Michelin has now set its sights on the wiper blade market with the launch of its own hybrid wiper blade range, Stealth.
Stealth is a short range of hybrid wiper blades for new and old vehicles alike. The range offers replacement blades for vehicles fitted with hybrid blades as original equipment, such as Lexus LS, Peugeot 4007, Toyota Prius 3 Hatchback and Vauxhall Insignia. Stealth blades can also be used as retro-fit upgrade replacement for vehicles originally fitted with either traditional or flat blades.
The range currently covers blades from 16″ to 28″, with 15″ blades due to arrive later in the year.
The construction of Michelin’s hybrid wiper blades is particularly interesting, in that wiper arm pressure, which is distributed across the blade from the centre to the ends by the bridge elements, has been greatly improved. This has been achieved through the following means:
- ‘Smart-flex’ sprung steel primary element which better holds down the ends of the blade in contact with the windscreen
- A strong riveted flexible joint between the primary and secondary elements offering durability and improved flex
- A sliding joint between the secondary and tertiary elements allowing movement of the rubber to maintain contact with the windscreen
- A soft aerodynamic cover offering flexible movement, protection against clogging, and reduced wind-lif
- No use of end-caps which can lead to the ‘snowball’ effect in flat blades
To find out more about Michelin hybrid wiper blades, including an overview of the stock pack options and details on becoming a stockist please contact your local FPS Representative.