The technology and science behind a car’s tire has changed considerably since a few enterprising individuals slapped some bicycle tires onto an engine and called it an automobile. But what is the future of tires? Most people’s knowledge of tires begins (and ends) with tires being round, black, and rubber; but there is far more to our round, supportive friends. Prepare for a crash course (no pun intended) on some new tire technology. Let the rubber (or silicon hydride) hit the road and let’s begin!
- Tires are Getting Thinner
No longer is the tall skinny design a designation
n for your spare. Several companies are developing taller, skinnier tires to improve fuel efficiency, reduce vehicle size, and improve aerodynamics. Look no further than Bridgestone’s Ecopia ep 500 tires for a key example. This tire (designed with hybrids in mind) is designed to conserve as much energy as possible between stopping your vehicle and getting it started again. The only difference from your standard tire (other than size of course) is a higher inflation pressure. These tires are also finding their way onto performance and racing vehicles!
- New Tires Are Built to Resist Static Electricity
A vehicle needs to be adequately grounded so that static electricity is not generated when you exit your vehicle giving you an unpleasant shock, or (in the case of a gas station) creating a potentially dangerous situation. While modern tires are less conductive than older tires, the fact that more alloys (other than pure rubber) are being used in tires, means that new tires are still using thin continuous strips of rubber to provide protection from static buildup. So despite all their efforts, rubber is still a key ingredient to any successful tire.
- The Days of the Spare Tire May be Numbered
With our smart phones, roadside assistance, and other technologies, help on the road is just a button press away; and this does not even take into account the popularity of run flat tires and inflation kits! To cut down on cost and vehicle weight, many manufacturers are even offering a spare tire as an “optional” feature. This is especially true for subcompacts (which may lack the physical room for a spare) or even higher end performance vehicles where removing the spare could cut down on price significantly. Many people still enjoy the peace of mind a spare provides, but in the future it may be an optional, rather than standard feature, for every vehicle.
- New Run-Flat Tires can (Potentially) Last for more than 100 Miles
A standard run-flat tire is generally advertised as being able to drive 50 miles at 50 mph… but that range can be stretched out quite easily. Lee Willard, a product development engineer at Michelin, stated that the range can nearly DOUBLE if you drop your speed by as little as 10 mph. The reason is the distance is not what wears the tire after it becomes flat, but the heat generated from driving. Reducing speed generates less heat and makes it so air does not escape. If traveling farther is safe and necessary, reducing speed is an option for your run-flat tire.
- Your Tires Aren’t Just Made of Rubber Anymore
Yes tires still contain rubber, but in an effort to make tires cheaper, lighter, and just plain better manufactures are trying out a wide variety of materials. Tires contain steel cords to increase their durability, as well as other metals and alloys like titanium and cobalt. Yokohama has even used citrus oil in tires to improve viscosity! A fairly new compound called silane (silicon hydride) is being used to increase tire performance in cold and wet conditions.
- Airless Tires May be the Future of Tire Technology
Michelin is already experimenting with tires that combine with the vehicles wheel to create a completely airless tire. These wheels are already being used for low speed vehicles like lawn mowers and golf carts. Google has even looked into using this wheel design for their driver-less autonomous cars.
These six pieces of information do not even begin to scratch the surface of the research and engineering that go into designing and improving tires. Thankfully, highly qualified and intelligent people are doing all the work for us. In the meantime, we’ll just sell you the tires and leave the design to the experts!
If you need tires, be sure to click HERE for a Coupon at our Quicklane!
Court Street Ford, located at 558 William Latham Drive, is a multi-year president’s award winning dealership. We have been serving the Kankakee, Bradley, Bourbonnais area for 30 years and counting! We are committed to exceptional customer service. Stop by our dealership, or give us a call at (815) 939-9600. Our knowledgeable sales team and service department will be happy to help and are dedicated to providing the best experience.