Cash Injection Helps Tyre Startup
A US startup tyre company that has developed a winter tyre with retractable studs has become the recipient of a US$200,000 investment from SC Launch, an organisation specialising in the provision of seed funding and mentoring for new, innovative businesses. South Carolina based Q Tires Inc. has yet to bring any products to market, but the company, headed by former Michelin executive Roy Bromfield, claims it is creating the world’s safest tyres.
Utilising a patented technology called “Celsius”, the tyres function by causing air pressure from the main chamber of the tyre to expand a secondary chamber, which lifts the studs above the surface of the tread. When road conditions no longer require studs, the air pressure is released into atmosphere and the studs retract below the tread face. The Celsius tyres have already been granted DOT approval, and plans are afoot to commence manufacture in China. Q tires has raised $8 million from investors and created a joint venture to produce the tyres in the Chinese city of Qingdao. Untreaded tyre cores will be purchased from Yellow Sea Tire and will be fitted with the new technology tread in a 6,700 square factory that will employ an estimated 140 staff.
The concept for the retractable studded tread came from the mind of a church pastor in Oregon, John O’Brien. A loathing for installing snow chains on his vehicle served as motivation for the idea, however established tyre manufacturers remained staunchly agnostic towards O’Brien’s brainwave. It took the faith of Bromfield and a number of other tyre professionals to attract the private investors needed to get Q Tires up and running. If the specialist manufacturer has its way the first Celsius tyres may be available in the US early next year, retailing for about 30 per cent more than existing premium all-season tyres.