Vehicle weight shapes the future of tires

Tires have long been the standard and common item on all types of vehicles. But vehicles are evolving – electric, autonomous and more – so how will this reality affect tires and their critical role? Watch above or read on as tire industry veteran Jim Davis, retired Goodyear communications director and former Tire review editor, looks at the future of tire looks.

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You could say that the tire industry – manufacturers, retailers, distributors and everyone connected with this business – has held a monopoly in the field of transportation. Let’s face it, on cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, tractors, airplanes and just about anything else, tires have long been the only component that touches the ground. In other words, if it rolls, it rolls on tires.

The good news… tires will remain vital for future vehicles, even as they evolve. The composition of tires can change and the technology developed in them is different – but hey, that’s been happening for several decades anyway. The evolution of tire design and how tires should continually improve is a continuous march forward, adapting to future vehicle development.

Since tires play a very important role in the efficiency of electric and autonomous vehicles, they need certain characteristics for EV equipment. These include low rolling resistance qualities and sound deadening technologies. Rolling resistance refers to the energy used to roll a tire; these calculations are then translated into fuel or battery efficiency. Low rolling resistance tires also form the best possible range for electric vehicles.

Among many tire models and types, there can be a significant difference in miles per gallon or overall EV range – so the technology of different tires is very important.

This is achieved by adapting the structure of the tire – making it lighter, optimizing the rubber compound, and even aerodynamically adjusting the sidewall. With rolling resistance accounting for up to 20% of a vehicle’s energy consumption, any savings here can have a significant effect on range.

To meet the most demanding rolling resistance requirements, the entire tire is taken into account. Tire manufacturers continue to work on all possibilities to reduce the rolling resistance contribution of all applicable tire components. For example, a low rolling resistance sidewall, ply composition, base construction, and yarn overlay are all in development. Manufacturers are even using 3D printing to find new benefits.

Second, a vehicle’s weight can be a huge factor in efficiency, forcing engineers to develop lightweight components. We see engineers using all sorts of exotic materials to reduce the weight of electric vehicles, but it also happens with tires.

The general public may not think about it, but tire weight plays a big role in efficiency. Lightweight/high-strength materials are being explored, including higher-strength steel and fabric reinforcements, advanced composite materials and more. Also keep in mind that increased work on tire sealants and punctures eliminates the spare tire, so overall lightweight considerations come into play here.

Of course, you’ve always heard that tire development and design is all about trade-offs or trade-offs. A common question when considering tires for electric vehicles, for example, is “Can you have quiet tires?” and pull, too?

Because the noise and comfort of electric vehicles are amplified due to the lack of sound or vibration of an internal combustion engine, everything else – brake, suspension and tire noise – is amplified.

Already, you see tire manufacturers developing foam inserts and other solutions that can cut tire-generated noise in half. It does not create any performance loss in the tire and the foam is light enough to create no impact on tire speed or energy consumption.

Most tire noise comes from the tread pattern and the pitch sequence of the tread elements. This noise can also be reduced by refining the construction, overall contour design and tread. Acoustically optimized tread grooves help provide an optimal solution.

Overall, while most consumers probably don’t realize or appreciate the high level of technology that goes into their tires, these products have continually delivered ever greater performance and efficiency.

With the appearance of new types of vehicles, this will not change. The technology will continue to move forward and the four elements that connect the vehicle to the road will continue to be the tires.

A common thread for all future mobility solutions is the one thing that touches the ground. The tire provides precise steering, grip for accelerating and braking and absorbs vibrations and noise. Simply put, the tire is an integral part of the driving experience, no matter what you drive.

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