The tire of the future will be round, probably black and more than likely pneumatic.
Beyond that, the variables in play—new materials, new manufacturing methods, changing vehicle designs and needs, etc.—present an evolving spider web of tire design parameters that put all design features, except round, into play.
To gain insight into how the tire industry perceives the tire of tomorrow, ERJ’s sister magazine, Rubber & Plastics News surveyed a handful of major tire makers, asking about a number of game-changing aspects of tire design.
Bridgestone Americas Inc.; Contintental Tire the Americas LLC; Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.; Goodyear; Hankook Tire USA; Michelin North America Inc.; Pirelli Tyre S.p.A.; and Sumitomo Rubber North America responded.
Arguably the most intriguing and most radical change from a design/technology point of view, is the pneumatic/non-pneumatic question.
Being able to produce a non-pneumatic tire that offers key pneumatic-based properties such as comfort, load-bearing capacity and braking/handling grip would reduce, if not eliminate, the pneumatic tire's Achilles heel—pressure loss.
The development of a viable non-pneumatic tire also would disrupt the entire existing distribution model, since there would be little, if any, need for tire mounting and/or balancing.
That day, however, is still a ways off—decades, perhaps—according to tire makers large and small, including Group Michelin, which has one of the most viable solutions, the Tweel tire/wheel hybrid product, already on the market.