Many people believe that car and truck tires have been the same since they were invented. This is simply not true. Even though it may seem that the advancements in the tire technology are seriously lagging behind advancements in other parts of the automotive industry, this is not the case in reality. Companies are researching and developing new solutions and technologies that are meant to make tires better.
What "Better" Means?
When we say better, we mean a couple of things. For one, there is the safety aspect. With many companies dedicating a lot of their time and money into developing tire solutions meant to improve the safety of the people in the car by improving the grip, for instance. Other ways of "bettering" tires involve reducing fuel consumption, as well as introducing new materials that will be better for the environment. But what exactly are the tire companies doing.
New Concepts from Goodyear
Goodyear is a tire company that prides itself on introducing new technologies and solutions and this year, they introduced two new tire concepts that are supposed to change the future of tires as we know it.
Their first concept tire is called BHO3 and the idea behind it is that the heat generated by the rolling of the tire might actually be used to fuel electric cars. The materials that would be used to manufacture BHO3 tires would maximize the electricity generation capabilities of the tire while also enhancing its rolling resistance characteristics.
Triple Tube is the second Goodyear concept which entails a tire which has three tubes within it which can be filled with air to different extents, thus changing the performance of the tire and its characteristic. Depending on the conditions on the road and the needs of the driver, the Triple Tube tire would be able to deliver three different "configurations".
Michelin and Reducing Fuel Consumption
Michelin, on the other hand, is far more interested in reducing the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, which is in tune with what the scientists have been warning us about for years (without much success, if we might add). Namely, according to the vice president for Sustainable Development for the Michelin Group, Dr. Patrick Oliva, about 10% of worldwide oil consumption is directly related to tire use. With new developments, Michelin hopes to reduce this percentage and make cars more fuel efficient through new tire technologies.
So far, according to Mr. Oliva, with their green tire initiative, Michelin has succeeded in doing this, improving fuel economy by 10% over the last 5 generations of their green tires. This, together with tire recycling and new tire dumping practices should dramatically contribute to the environmental effects of tires. You can learn more about tire dumping on the Tyreright blog, if you wish.
The Indestructible Airless Tires
One of the truly big things for tires in the future might be the airless tires that many companies are working on. The idea is that airless tires will increase the safety of everyone involved in traffic as they will never go flat and as punctures will become a thing of the past. Hankook, for instance, is working on a tire called the iFlex, which can be mounted on existing vehicles and which will feature no air at all. Bridgestone is also working on a non-pneumatic tire which would also involve the use of environmentally-friendly materials.
All in all, it can safely be said that the future of car tires is anything but boring. Over the next few years, we will be seeing all kinds of improvements and new concepts introduced. It will be exciting!