With vehicles of the future being evermore developed with the promise of autonomy and digital connectivity, manufacturers of the tires that carry those vehicles are also expected to upgrade their level of intelligence and electronics.
But it’s not always about the gizmos and gadgets we’re adding to those tires. What you might call the meat and potatoes of tires – their chemical and physical makeup – will also likely evolve via new materials and compositions.
Let’s investigate what that might look like in this Tire Review Continental Tire Garage Studio video.
It’s a proud moment when a material technology that was born in a chemistry lab travels all the way to commercialization and implementation in a new product. In the tire industry, the key is that the tire with the noteworthy ingredient must still perform at an equal or better level of performance.
One example is Continental’s new UltraContact NXT tire, which utilizes a composition of recycled, renewable, and certified materials to deliver maximum safety and minimum environmental impact. It contains up to 65% recycled and renewable content, uses Continental’s proven long-lasting Yellow Chili rubber compound, and achieves top EU label ratings for rolling resistance, wet braking and noise.
That’s not all, though. Researchers at the University of Minnesota report working on a technology to produce automotive tires from trees and grasses. The project involves a chemical process to make isoprene, a monomer of natural rubber, and the university claims the production of biomass from trees and grasses would be identical to current tires in terms of appearance and performance.
Looking 10, 20, or 50 years into the future, I’m willing to bet the tire performance criteria that will be most important – attributes like rolling resistance, weight, grip, and tread life – will still matter – and fewer tradeoffs will be expected. That’s why tire manufacturers are getting ahead of the curve by advancing the science of materials in creative ways.