At the beginning of October Dunlop GmbH (Hanau) invited trade journalists and vehicle manufacturers’ OE managers to a demonstration, “Dunlop ’99: Innovations in the Interest of Safety and Mobility” at Trier, or rather at the company’s own test track at Wittlich. The main aim of the event was to convince that it was high time to get rid of the spare wheel. People’s attitudes cannot be changed overnight; a lot of thinking is required about how to live in future without this “fifth wheel on the car” and yet remain mobile in a vehicle that has just had a puncture. Dunlop claims to have developed a “forward-looking safety and mobility concept”, consisting of several different components grouped together: a self-supporting tyre (“DSST” = Dunlop Self Supporting Technology), an integrated tyre pressure monitor called “Warnair”, and an equivalent system for the replacement market developed in cooperation with the Italian Alltech Car Security Systems company plus a tyre sealant “Fill & Go” on the basis of IMS (“Instant Mobility System”). In the next few years the company will introduce the practical application of each of these components on different vehicle models – Dunlop can already claim partial successes. For example, the increasing numbers of “IMS” applications have prompted the tyre manufacturer to speak of a “breakthrough”, but the company is realistic enough to know that in the case of the “DSST” tyre series a similar success can only be had through original equipment.
The new Mini will be equipped with Warnair as a standard feature. Dunlop’s tyre pressure warning system notifies the driver if a tyre loses more than 30 per cent of its air. Approval of the system for the Mini represents the first time that Dunlop’s Warnair has been included as standard equipment for a model in the small car sector. Since the introduction of Warnair in August 1997, 500,000 such tyre pressure monitoring systems have been installed worldwide. In addition, Dunlop is offering 26 additional sizes of the SP Winter Sport M3 which was developed for all categories. The tyre is now available in diameters from 13-19 inches.
One year into their partnership, TRW and Michelin announce their first business award with a major European original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The product, called “En Tire”, is a state-of-the-art tyre pressure monitoring (TPM) system underscored by the radio frequency technology of TRW and the tyre experience of Michelin. To extend beyond their existing development programmes, TRW and Michelin are actively the next generation TPM system for production in 2005.
Goodyear and Siemens VDO have announced plans to develop a progressive tyre pressure monitoring system which can be introduced to the market at an early date. The co-operation brings together Goodyear’s knowledge in the fields of tyre pressure control, sensors and interpretation of tyre temperature and pressure, with the know-how of Siemens VDO in electronics and common automotive systems.
Ford has announced that tyre pressure sensors, which alert the driver when a tyre loses pressure, will be fitted as standard on its 2002 Explorer SUV and on other models from 2005. The company says that fitting the sensors is merely one element of a series of improvements and safety features on the vehicle.
Canadian-based SmarTire Systems has announced a third quarter (ended 30th April) loss of CAN$ 2.1 million. This represents a net loss per share of $0.14 compared to a net income of CAN$9.6 million and a gain of $0.64 per share for the same period in 2000. SmarTire explain that the gain in 2000 was due to a CAN$12.2 million sale of investments, and that revenue for the 2001 third quarter stood 14% higher than in 2000, at CAN$265,463.
The agency charged with developing the proposals for mandatory fitting of tyre pressure monitoring has admitted it has insufficient scientific evidence to support its task. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have no files which point directly to flat tyres as a cause for crashes, nor does it have information on how often under-inflated tyres contribute to crashes. It is estimated that flat tyres cause less than half of a percent of all crashes. There is a danger that the feeling that there is a need to “do something”, may result in expensive regulations which mask real safety threats.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed new federal standards for the installation of tyre pressure monitoring systems in passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs. The first option requires that the driver be warned when the pressure in one or more tyres, up to a total of four, has fallen to 20% or more below the recommended cold inflation pressure, or a minimum pressure specified in the new standards. The second option is that the warning is given when the pressure in one or more tyres, up to a total of three, falls below 25% of the recommended cold inflation pressure, or a minimum pressure specified in the new standards. These US recommendations are bound to give impetus to the marketing and development of tyre pressure monitoring systems throughout the market.
Despite reports suggesting that under-inflation of Firestone tyres was a contributory factor in Explorer rollovers, a survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that US drivers are not taking the message on board. The pressure of over 11,500 tyres was measured over a two week period and 27 per cent of cars and 32 per cent of vans, SUVs etc. had at least one under-inflated tyre (8 p.s.i. or more below the manufacturer’s recommended pressure). Vehicles made after November 2003 will have to incorporate a tyre pressure monitoring system as standard, according to NHTSA rules being drafted at the moment. The survey shows how badly such a system is needed, says the agency.
After procuring 26.25 percent of Beru’s shares, the Carlyle Group has now made a buyout offer. Carlyle offered 30 Euros per share but Beru has rejected this take-over attempt, which Carlyle calls. Beru management believes this undervalues the company and has quoted 40 Euros as a realistic share offer for a company worth around 500 million Euros. Some months ago Beru AG, of Ludwigsburg, Germany, acquired AMI Doduco, Europe’s leading company in tyre pressure control systems.
Beru AG (Ludwigsburg/Germany) has announced growing demand for its tyre pressure control system. As well as the BMW 3, 5 and 7 series, Mercedes S- and AMG E-class and SLK and Audi A8, the tyre safety device is now also available as an option for Mercedes CL Coupe and Audi allroad Quattro, and from autumn for the BMW X5.
New Zealand’s land Transport Safety Authority is proposing that space saver tyres be limited to maximum speeds of 80kph. Other recommendations are that they only be used in emergencies, only one is fitted to a vehicle at a time, they are used in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and to the correct tyre pressure. Recently, a parliamentary committee stated that it was concerned about the use of spacesaver tyres, but they did not want to see them banned.
Goodyear has developed an agreement with Phase IV Engineering of Boulder, Colorado aimed at fully developing a tyre pressure monitoring system. After the recent agreements with Michelin and Cycloid Systems this is the third such agreement Goodyear has completed. The long term aim of this strategy is not only to develop a fully operational system, but to extend Goodyear beyond the automotive tyre field.
Michelin and TRW Automotive Electronics have agreed to develop advanced tyre pressure monitoring technology, hand in hand with Michelin’s PA System Technology. The companies displayed their linked technology . The technology is being displayed at the Convergence 2000 International Congress on Transportation Electronics, being held in Detroit. The TRW system will give drivers advance knowledge of underinflation and allow them to remedy the fault before pressure falls to a dangerous level. In the event of a fast puncture the PAX system ensures the tyre stays on the wheel. The TRW system uses a sensor mounted in a high tec valve that sends details by radio signal to the on board control unit. The agreement will see both companies working towards the most effective method of alerting the driver to possible problems.