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Getting To Grips With Tyres

4 min read
Tyre technology is constantly evolving to provide consumers with safe and efficient performance. With the global focus on sustainability, tyre makers are looking to create tyres that are not only innovative and smart, but environmentally friendly to boot.

The emergence and worldwide adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) have made a great impact on tyre technology. The design of tyres is gearing towards making use of new and innovative materials to make them quieter in order to match the EV’s quiet nature. Tyres are a constant source of noise in the car cabin, and only the most insulated cabins are immune to it.

Tyre manufacturer Goodyear is focusing its R&D on the electric and autonomous vehicle segment. The company’s new range, called the Goodyear ElectricDrive GT, features ultra-high performance, all-season tyres that deliver long-lasting tread wear utilising an asymmetrical tread pattern and a specially developed tyre compound that enhances all-season traction, providing EV drivers better confidence in navigating safely through both wet and dry road conditions, thus enhancing safety over numerous weather conditions. Their innovative SoundComfort Technology acts as a built-in barrier that helps reduce the road noise infiltrating into an EV’s cabin, providing a more peaceful experience for EV drivers and their passengers.

Goodyear ElectricDrive GT (Image: Goodyear)

Gearing towards sustainability, other tyre companies are also looking to manufacture products with raw materials from renewable and traceable sources. Continental has come up with the Conti GreenConcept tyre development that is made with more than 35% sustainable raw materials and 17% recycled materials, such as reclaimed steel, recovered carbon black, and even polyester from recycled plastic bottles for the tyre’s casing. The materials used in the tread are optimised to further reduce the overall weight of the tyre and reduce the tyre’s rolling resistance, improving its performance.

Conti GreenConcept (Image: Continental)

Run-flat tyres are not new to the automotive industry. These airless marvels allow drivers to continue moving even if they suffer a puncture. Spare tyres are slowly becoming a rarity; this is even more so for the EV generation, as space is needed for the batteries. And this is where run-flat technology becomes the go-to solution for extended mobility without sacrificing boot space. Pirelli’s self-supporting run-flat tyres use special reinforcements inserted into the internal sidewalls, thus helping them withstand lateral and transversal loads on the car, even with no tyre pressure. With no air in these tyres, there is no chance of a dangerous tyre blow-out. The driver will never be in the precarious position of negotiating the roads with a burst tyre.

Pirelli’s self-supporting run-flat tyre (Image: Pirelli)

Advances in nanotechnology are also revolutionising tyre development. Imagine a tyre puncture that can self-seal! That is the reality with tyres made with nano polymers. The polymer coating on the inside wall is pushed towards a puncture hole by the tyre’s internal air pressure, thus sealing the breach. This technology can retard aging of the tyre’s casing and increase the tyre’s lifespan by as much as 25%. On top of that, the polymers also eliminate air seepage, which leads to tyre deflation. This allows the tyre to maintain optimum air pressure and efficiency, thus keeping the car moving safely.

Smart cars are quickly becoming the norm, and so too will the tyres they run on. The smart tyre — through built-in sensors, readers and software — seeks to address not only the common failures in tyres, but also pre-empt future ones as well through analytics.

A great deal of data can be gleaned from the tyres of a car: how the car is navigating the roads, driving conditions, the driver’s response to different scenarios, etc. There are developments to install microchips in the tyre cavity to take note of air pressure, temperature and load impact. At present, Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags are already in some tyres to identify the tyre make, model and size.

From development to product selection to installation and eventual replacement, the evolution of tyre technology and innovation will not only boost the quality and performance of tyres, but will introduce much safer tyres for drivers as well.