New products, developments aplenty at Geneva show
The Geneva-based Salon International de l'Auto, better known to us as the International Motor Show, wound up yesterday. This year the show and its more than 850 vehicles on display attracted some 702,000 visitors. In addition to presentations from major and specialist vehicle manufacturers, tuners and appearances by celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, a handful of tyre makers maintained a presence in Geneva and showed off their latest products alongside up and coming technologies.
In addition to its all-new Aspire 4G, Apollo Tyres presented its full range of tyres for the European market, including the Acelere, Amazer 3G Maxx, Hawkz and Hawkz Winter lines. Representatives from the tyre maker shared that following its successful launch in the UK, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, the Apollo brand is now being introduced into three new European markets – Austria, Switzerland and Denmark. They also shared that the Apollo Amazer 3G Maxx performed strongly in recent tests carried out by Germany’s ADAC. A total of 30 tyres were tested by the motoring organisation, 15 in size 165/70 R14T and 15 in 205/55 R16V, and the Apollo tyre was rated fourth overall in the first of these two categories. The ADAC described the 3G Maxx’s performance as “very balanced, full marks in the wet.”
At its show stand, Bridgestone presented its brand new Turanza T001. Shown off alongside this and other products from the current Bridgestone range were two new technologies the tyre maker believes have future potential. Tyres & Accessories spoke with Gert Meylemans, senior manager of the Bridgestone Europe EU Coms office, and Wilfried Rulands, marketing & communications manager at Bridgestone Germany about these innovations.
The first of these is Bridgestone’s tyre printing technology; tyres bearing the technique were prominently displayed on Bridgestone’s stand in Geneva, showing the artistic opportunities it offers. “We have received a lot of interest in the printing technology,” Wilfried Rulands told T&A. “We will definitely market this, although a launch date has yet to be decided.” Gert Meylemans recapped the technology involved, describing its use of ink covered by a protective application, and pointed out that the sidewall rubber in printable tyres differs from that on standard tyres; therefore, replacement market customers must purchase specific tyres with an eye to adding their own design, company logo or pattern. He added that tests conducted on tyres show the printing can last around two years. “Bridgestone is looking at niche markets to test launch,” Meylemans added. “During this trial will evaluate the tyre itself and also its consumer appeal. We will focus on the replacement market and work through pilot dealers.” According to Meylemans, pricing for the printing application has yet to be determined.
The other new technology Bridgestone brought to Geneva was its airless tyre, and Rulands commented that interest in this product has also been high. Unlike the printing technology, Bridgestone is not yet ready to trial its airless tyre in the market. “With the airless tyre we want to show what is possible. It’s a whole new concept and uses recycled materials,” he explained. “This concept will be further developed but we don’t know when it will be commercially available – I have heard that it will be within the next four to five years but this is by no means certain.”
Three new products, the ContiPremiumContact 5, ContiWinterContact TS850 and Conti.eContact Winter, graced the Continental stand. The third of these is a winter tyre for electric and hybrid vehicles; although on show at this year’s Geneva show, the size 195/55 R 20 tyre is not scheduled to be launched until autumn 2013. Alexander Bahlmann, head of media and public relations for Continental’s Tires division, shared that the Conti.eContact Winter can cut rolling resistance considerably compared with its standard equivalent. “The 20-inch size was decided upon due to rolling resistance and wear criteria,” he commented. “It was the best size in comparison to a standard winter tyre; rolling resistance has been reduced by 25 per cent compared with a 16-inch tyre.”
This large but very narrow tyre features a new sidewall design that offers enhanced aerodynamics. By greatly reducing rolling resistance, Continental aims to cut the energy required by electric cars and thus extend the operating range of this new type of vehicle. This is particularly important in winter, it notes, as more energy is needed for heating and headlights than during summer. Continental believes the extended range made possible by the tyres will significantly boost end-consumer acceptance of these vehicles.
Continental says the driving characteristics of the Conti.eContact in typical wintry conditions are on par with those of standard Continental winter tyres. Bahlmann explained that the tyre maker’s design priorities were a good level of braking and safety plus good rolling resistance, and according to Continental the tyre “displays excellent braking properties on wet road surfaces and delivers the same level of protection against aquaplaning as conventional winter tyres from Continental.”
Together with the Dunlop Sport Maxx Race and Sport Maxx RT ranges, covered in detail here and in the March 2012 edition of Tyres & Accessories, and the Goodyear EfficentGrip SUV, Goodyear Dunlop dedicated a large chunk of its exhibition presence in Geneva to new technologies. On display for the first time was the company’s Air Maintenance Technology, which has been under development in Goodyear’s laboratories over the past two years. The AMT system requires no external pump, electronics or driver intervention and is promoted as a technology that relegates the need to check tyre pressure to the dustbin of history. Also being shown off was a prototype tyre produced with BioIsoprene monomer, a synthetic rubber Goodyear has jointly developed with DuPont Industrial Biosciences. Further technologies on display were RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification), which Goodyear recently introduced on certain truck tyres, a concept electric vehicle tyre and the Spring Tire – an airless tyre designed originally for use on the moon.
Turkish manufacturer Lassa was also present and displayed its range of summer and winter car and 4×4 tyres, including the Phenoma, the latest addition to its portfolio. This performance tyre, which is available in 11 sizes for 16 to 18-inch rims, was joined by the Competus H/P 4×4 range and Impetus Revo. “At Lassa we’re proud of the range of high quality tyres we offer, which meet the differing performance, safety and usage requirements of customers in many varied countries,” commented Halit Şensoy, the tyre maker’s international sales and marketing director. “The show offers us an excellent opportunity to present the technology, design and philosophy behind our brand. Therefore it is important for us to display a strong presence at this show. We look forward to this enjoyable show and meeting with numerous other exhibitors and visitors along with our European and Swiss distributors.”
Michelin was not amongst the tyre makers exhibiting in Geneva, however the French manufacturer’s presence was still felt at the Renault stand; the ZOE, Renault’s new electric car that will hit the market later this year with a starting price of £13,650 (after Plug-in Car Grant deduction), will be largely fitted with Michelin tyres developed jointly with the car maker through a our-year research and innovation programme. All vehicles delivered with 15 and 16-inch rims will be shod with Michelin’s new Energy E-V tyre – the tyre maker says that in near-urban use the tyres help increase the ZOE’s range by up to six per cent, depending on the type of use. Versions of the ZOE supplied with 17-rims will be fitted with standard tyres.
“Michelin’s goal is to design tyres that help to reduce energy consumption while maintaining the same high performance in the areas of safety – especially wet grip – and longevity,” said Michelin in a press statement. “Michelin is deeply committed to simultaneously improving tyre quality in different areas. This constant focus on balanced performance was an important reason behind Renault’s decision to forge the development partnership. Based on more than 20 years of research to develop solutions that save energy and reduce carbon emissions, the Michelin Energy E-V today integrates Michelin’s most advanced technologies and applies them to deliver cleaner, safer electric mobility, which is exactly what the Renault ZOE offers.”
As may be expected, Formula One dominated the Pirelli stand at Geneva. The F1 car on display was strictly a look but don’t touch affair, as at least one journalist discovered quite suddenly, but it provided an opportunity to show off both Pirelli’s PZero and Cinturato Formula One tyres. Amongst the tyres on display were various members of the P Zero family, including the F1-inspired P Zero Silver, which was officially launched last September but only now entering the market. Also present was the Cinturato P1 and Scorpion Verde. Also spotted on the Pirelli stand was the Winter Snowcontrol Serie 3, Pirelli’s latest winter tyre for small and mid-sized cars.
Finally, at least alphabetically, is Yokohama. The Japanese tyre maker presented numerous products at the Geneva show, including its new Geolandar SUV, which was released in Japan and February launched throughout Europe the following month. Following its European release, the energy efficiency-themed tyre will be gradually launched in other global markets. The other significant Yokohama product on display was the BluEarth AE-01, which is billed as the first mainstream, standard tyre to use Yokohama’s BluEarth Technology. European sales of the BluEarth AE-01 began in March and the range is available in 40 sizes from 205/55R16 91H to 155/80R13 79T.