European-focus: Apollo Aspire 4G unveiled
Less than three years ago, Apollo Tyres acquired Dutch tyre maker Vredestein and set about developing a company that draws upon both firms’ strengths. Now, at this week’s Geneva Motor Show, Apollo Vredestein showed the world what its Netherlands and India-based research and development departments are capable of jointly achieving; the very first tyre to come out of this international collaboration – the Apollo Aspire 4G – was given its official debut on 7 March.
Introducing the 4G to media representatives, Apollo Vredestein BV CEO Rob Oudshoorn stated the new Apollo high performance tyre is a product “totally geared up for the European market.” The tyre is aimed at cars such as the Volkswagen Passat, BMW 5 series, Mercedes E class and Audi A6. An initial range of nine W and Y speed rated sizes for 16 to 19-inch rims is now available, and further additions will be made to the Aspire 4G range at a later date.
Oudshoorn shared that the new tyre’s tread design was developed in the Netherlands and its compound in India. Exploring the various components that make up the Aspire 4G in greater detail, Peter Becker, chief of research and development, said the tyre’s asymmetric tread is divided into three sections: The wide outer shoulder is designed to achieve good handling performance, particularly in the dry, optimal stiffness, and high lateral grip and increased stability, especially on the rear axle. The inner shoulder focuses on wet grip and stability. Three wide circumferential grooves are provided to reduce aquaplaning and give excellent grip in wet conditions. The centre rib which is optimised for stiffness and high steering precision.
“For a stiffness optimised pattern, you need to have a high grip tread compound,” Becker added. “We have chosen a high styrene SBR and a high vinyl SSBR compound, it is a blend with a high silica content. It was very important to keep the rolling resistance of this tyre on a lower level.” Improved traction, handling and shorter braking distances are three further qualities attributed to the compound used.
Becker related that the Aspire 4G design brief called for handling effect to be increased by ten per cent, shorter braking distances and lower rolling resistance without compromises being made in any other parameter. When put head-to-head with a “leading European benchmark” – the competitor tyre’s identity was not disclosed – the Aspire 4G is said to have achieved good dry handling and braking results, excellent wet handling and wet braking plus a good, low level of aquaplaning, good pass-by tyre noise result and rolling resistance on par with the competitor.
Describing the Aspire 4G in a single sentence, Becker said the tyre was a “minimalistic design for safe driving in all speed ranges to achieve customer satisfaction.” As yet no OEM supply deals involving the new tyre have been announced, however the chief of research and development confirmed that all fundamental requirements for original equipment customers, such as steering precision, lateral grip and the tyre’s balance, were considered at an early stage of development.