Pirelli may not have invented the run-flat tyre – these have been around in various forms since the 1930s – but it is now 20 years since the Italian manufacturer brought its first run-flats to market. The road tyres that Pirelli launched in 2001 drew upon lessons learned from rallying, the setting where the tyre maker tried and tested this technology for the first time. Driving on tyres containing a reinforced structure enabled rally cars to keep moving in the event of a puncture, saving precious minutes during intense competition.
A window into the future of tyres, Yokohama-style, awaits visitors to the Tokyo Motor Show. The Yokohama Rubber stand will feature a “future technologies corner”, at which Yokohama will introduce its CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Services) technologies.
As of this month, 15 million tyres featuring ContiSeal self-sealing technology have been produced at the Continental factory in Lousado, Portugal. The 15 millionth tyre, a size 255/45 R 19 ContiSportContact 5 SUV destined for original equipment fitment on a Volkswagen, was produced on 23 July and gave cause for a minor celebration at the plant.
The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) encourages us to “imagine a tyre that could heal after being punctured,” and a team from the school has done more than just imagine – according to SEAS, its researchers have “developed a new type of rubber that is as tough as natural rubber but can also self-heal.”
Hankook Tire reports that its Sealguard anti-puncture technology is now being applied to its winter tyres. For the upcoming season, certain original equipment fitments – the Volkswagen Passat and Touran are two models Hankook specifically names – will receive i*cept evo tyres containing the sealing material, which can seal tread punctures up to 5mm in diameter.
Launched internationally in Sicily at the beginning of 2015, Pirelli hosted a local UK market event to mark the introduction of its Cinturato All Season tyre at the Tamworth Snowdome. Closed to the public, the Snowdome’s indoor ski slope provided an excellent illustration of the increased mobility offered by the tyre; it allowed the demonstration Vauxhall Astra to ascend the steep inclines, which were rendered completely unmanageable when equipped with summer tyres. Meanwhile, Pirelli used warm outside conditions to demonstrate the tyre in dry and wet manoeuvres, particularly emphasising safety with a wet brake and swerve workshop.
An endurance test carried out by Italian motoring magazine Quattroruote has placed the effectiveness of Pirelli’s ‘Seal Inside’ technology under the magnifying glass. A vehicle fitted with set of tyres featuring the self-sealing material, one containing a 4mm thick nail and a self-tapping screw, was driven at speed for several hours. At the end of the test, the evaluation team detected only a very slight loss in air pressure.
Amongst the innovations presented at this month’s Michelin Challenge Bibendum was the tyre maker’s ‘Selfseal technology’, and Michelin says we’ll be seeing this in series production tyres before too long. Selfseal utilises a rubber compound that immediately plugs any holes in the tread. According to Michelin, tyres featuring Selfseal technology will be market-ready from 2015, with options available for passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.
If you’ve needed to change a tyre lately, you may have been confronted by a space saver in the boot – or no spare tyre at all. Pressure to reduce vehicle weight, combined with increasing tyre reliability and a growing reluctance (or inability) amongst motorists to actually change a flat tyre, has seen the number of new cars equipped with a full-size spare fall dramatically in the past few years. Previewing a new market research report during last month’s Tire Technology Expo conference, Notch Consulting Inc president Paul Ita noted that while 68 per cent of cars produced in 2008 came with full-size spares, this number had slid to 48 per cent four years later, and he projects that by 2017 only 41 per cent of new cars will still be sold with a full-size spare.
On 2 January, Kumho Tire announced the domestic market launch of its first self-sealing tyre. The company’s ‘K-Seal’ technology has been introduced on the Kumho Majesty Solus range and is available in three sizes – 275/40ZR19 XL 105W, 245/45ZR19 XL 102W and 235/45ZR17 XL 97W. These tyres are capable of self-sealing tread punctures of up to five millimetres in diameter.
Goodyear’s self-sealing commercial tyre technology has earned a “Nifty Fifty Award” for best new products in 2008. In its December issue, the US based publication Heavy Duty Trucking magazine selected the Goodyear Unisteel G316 LHT tyre with DuraSeal Technology for its Nifty Fifty Award, one of 50 new products selected on its “usefulness to the truck operator in terms of innovation, serviceability and performance.” Previously, Goodyear’s G395 steer tyre and early applications of DuraSeal – on the G287 and G288 tyres – were honoured with the Nifty Fifty recognition.