Goodbye to old tires, airless tires with no air are on their way

Cars News

Is it the end of the black rubber air-filled donut first used on vehicles in the 1890s? A product designed to be indestructible and therefore not easy to recycle. The new airless tires produced by the French Michelin, the American rival Goodyear and the South Korean Hankook are on the way: the first tires of the future to appear on the market. Not missing much. Michelin has been working with General Motors since 2019 to equip its cars with next-generation tires and could debut the new electric Chevrolet Bolt in early 2024. Goodyear has already tested 3 special plastic spokes that support a thin reinforced rubber tread. South Korean company Hankook unveiled the latest version of its i-Flex NPT in January. Smaller than a conventional tire, a honeycomb of interlocking polyurethane spokes represents a breakthrough in coping with lateral and horizontal stress, the company says. Bridgestone, the largest tire manufacturer in the world, is interested in industrial applications in the agricultural, mining and construction sectors, where demand may be high from customers who see a costly loss of productivity when tires fail. Airless tires, at least initially, will come at a premium price. But the ability to regularly rebuild and 3D print could change the rules of the game. Perhaps, some experts speculate, consumers will not even need to buy tires but will receive them for free and pay for them based on the kilometers traveled, with sensors that monitor use. Continental is developing a self-inflating system in which pumps and sensors in the wheel keep the pressure at optimal levels. Like all manufacturers, the company is looking for “greener” products. Polyester made from recycled plastic bottles will soon be used in its premium tires, and both Continental and Goodyear are working on the dandelion flower that produces rubber tree-like latex.


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