Michelin is to exhibit its Airless tyres at the Paris Auto Show 2004. According to Michelin the “Airless Wheel” and “Tweel” tyres are still at the concept stage but would hopefully hit the mass market in the next 10 years.
As high-street retailers report a wet August and rising interest rates hit consumer sales generally, the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCI) today released figures indicating a rise in new bikes sales.
A new research project into tyre noise on roads could lead to recommendations for improving the security and noise performance of Europe’s roads. The project, which is being carried out by Dr. Roger Pinnington and his team at the University of Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration (ISVR) and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, aims to develop a model tyre that the researchers can use to gauge whether it is the tyre or the road surface that is producing the noise. The tyre model being developed will allow the researchers to determine whether the problem of traffic noise is the responsibility of the tyre manufacturers or the road constructors.
The variety of motorsports is terrific; from the single seater Formula 1 and Formula 3 cars to events such as touring cars and rallying, where the cars – and tyres – at least look like the ones that we see on the roads. Then there is the two- (and three- if you count sidecar racing) wheel motorsports sector. Many tyre manufacturers are active in at least of these sectors, while some supply tyres across the motorsports spectrum. Their motive is usually publicity and brand exposure, although there may be technical spin-offs or commercial advantages through being allied with a winning team. Whatever the reasons, many tyre manufacturers are heavily involved in motorsports. We take a look at who, and why.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’s (HKSAR) government is proposing that all new tyres are registered and taxed. A spokesman said that new car buyers will be required to pay an annual tax of HK$100 (11 Euro) for the five tyres on a car. The money will be used to buy and operate machinery to turn scrap tyres into rubber bricks, used to pave roads, and once the capital outlay for the machinery is recouped, the tyre tax will be lifted. The proposal has the backing of the Hong Kong Automobile Association.
Nokian has developed a new winter tyre, the Hakkapeliitta 4, which features a tread compound that incorporates environmentally-friendly rape seed oil. The tyre has 14 rows of studs and great attention was paid to these. Tests show that a square stud shape was more durable, provided better grip (8 per cent better than the previous tyre) and was less likely to work loose, as well as being less damaging to roads. The tyre is aimed at the Nordic and Russian markets.
Fiat has laid off 5,600 workers for at least a year while the company restructures. Those laid off blocked two main roads in Italy, while some of those who still had jobs went on strike in sympathy, halting work at the company’s Mirafiori car assembly line. More stoppages are planned and the metal-workers trade union is calling for a general strike in Turin this Friday. The Italian government has given Fiat the go-ahead to lay off up to 8,100 workers, some of them temporarily.
Since the ending of hostilities in Angola, the tyre and associated industries have enjoyed something of a sales boom, especially truck tyres as the country’s roads are restored. One tyre dealer in Luanda said that, while the war was going on, he was lucky to sell three truck tyres a day, but since the advent of peace, his tyre sales have grown to 20 units daily.
Kumho was the overall winner in a test of ten tyre brands, including a number of premium names, conducted by the Australian Consumers’ Association. The tests included cornering and braking in the wet and on dry roads and Kumho was named the best overall performer.
Each year in spring the schedule of our editorial staff fills with new tyre launches. What is the reasoning behind the development of more and more new tyres? Is it because customers constantly demand new products? Do they really ask for two per cent more grip on wet roads or three per cent more safety on aquaplaning? Hardly. Many surveys show that customers do not care much about their tyres. Sometimes they do not even know the size of the tyre on their car never mind the correct tyre pressure. And although many customers make the decision which tyre to buy after consulting the test results published in the big German magazines, there is no such thing as a “consumer pressure” on the tyre manufacturers to develop new tyres. More often the industry itself maybe is disappointed with the test results and this might then be a motivation create new products. But indisputably, the greatest drive comes from the car manufacturers. They are constantly demanding higher performing tyres for ever higher performing cars. This is the reason why NEUE REIFENZEITUNG visited the research and development departments of several car and tyre manufacturers to get an impression how they are working together, and to follow up the route of a new tyre from the first sketches to the start of the production. Therefore we will focus on these details in an intermittent series starting in this issue with a very general introduction.
Changing climatic conditions are leading Goodyear engineers to develop tyres with greater levels of grip on wet surfaces. Precipitation levels in North America have risen dramatically in recent years, with figures climbing by as much as 15% in the US/Canadian border states. Elsewhere, storm levels have increased and seven hurricanes are expected this year. Goodyear’s chief engineer, Bill Egan says, “Greater levels of grip on rain-slick roads can be engineered on the computer for real world conditions. Improving a tyre’s wet-traction capabilities is vital in these times of changing weather patterns.”
Goodyear unveiled its newest generation of all- weather tyres, the Vector 5 and the Eagle Vector (EV-2) in Luxembourg at the end of August. The new tyres deliver superior safety on dry and wet roads all-year round as well as in snowy or icy conditions. The highlight of the new SmartTRED technology featured in these innovative products is that different areas of the tyre’s profile, each with distinct properties, come into play, depending on the conditions of the road. The Vector 5 and Eagle Vector (EV-2) will appeal particularly to drivers who usually drive in urban areas or on the flat and who want optimum safety even in adverse weather conditions. They need a tyre that is an excellent all-round performer in the moderate and temperate driving conditions they encounter for 90% of the time they use their car. However they want added safety and peace of mind in heavy rain and when temperatures drop towards freezing or even on snow and ice. Another interesting feature of the new tyres for the cost-conscious driver is that the mileage of these latest all-weather tyres has increased by around 15 percent over previous models. The central profile blocks of the Vector contain a substantial number of 3D-BIS blades – fine incisions in the rubber, whose edges “bite” into the surface of the road in so-called “low friction” conditions. This creates a significant increase in traction and grip on wet roads as well as on snow and ice. The new Vector 5 is immediately available in 21 versions ranging from 155/70R13 to 195/50R15 with a T speed rating (up to 190 km/h). The high performance version Eagle Vector EV-2 will be available in 13 sizes ranging from 185/65R14 H (210 km/h) to 205/55R16 V (240 km/h).
Vergölst’s truck tyre service had a very successful run in 1999. More than 14,000 trucks and coaches/buses were fixed on motorways and highways by Vergölst’s puncture service in 1998 – equivalent to 38 calls-out per day –, a figure far exceeded in 1999. This Vergölst round-the-clock truck tyre puncture service has been available seven days a week (including holidays) since 1987. So far the breakdown service has operated from the various service centres, but for the last two years or so the company has increasingly used “servicemobiles” which work independently and are responsible only for trucks, thereby providing even faster help in each individual breakdown. The servicemobiles not only help with truck tyre punctures on the road. They service customers’ vehicles wherever they are – tractor units or trailers – either at the customer’s own premises, in a motorway service area, or while loading, unloading or being repaired at a truck workshop. The mobile truck tyre service is continually being enlarged above the current 50 servicemobiles. The target is mobile service coverage at traffic junctions and at centres of commerce. In sea ports such as Bremen/Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Kiel, Lübeck-Travemünde, Rostock (being developed) and Sassnitz/Stralsund the mobile port service has been in operation for several years, making the tyres of trailers safe before they start out on their journey along German roads.