Electric vehicles create new challenges for tyres. “For Tesla, we added foam in the tyres to make them quieter, because electric vehicles are quiet and you can hear the tyres,” says Richard J. Kramer, CEO of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. “From EV to AV Goodyear continues to innovate.”
In January it, announced a new venture capital fund, Goodyear Ventures. It’s investing up to $100 million in future mobility solutions over the next ten years for electric and autonomous vehicles, new mobility and new material research.
It’s also announced AndGo a service platform that uses predictive software to connect fleets with its Goodyear service network. Goodyear is researching all kinds of tyre concepts and materials.
Goodyear, at the Mcity Test Facility in Michigan, is researching electric and autonomous vehicles for intelligent tyres with sensors. Goodyear is supplying its intelligent tyres with embedded sensors via Redspher’s shared services platform called Rubiwin. The pilot program outfits delivery and service vans with intelligent tyres that collect data.
One interesting Goodyear concept tyre is named Oxygene, which has living moss growing within the sidewall. The tyre’s smart tread and open design circulate moisture and water from the road surface, enabling photosynthesis and adding oxygen into the air.
Waste from processing rice husk ash converted into silica is used in Goodyear tyres in China. Goodyear worked with the United Soybean Board to develop soybean oil in tyres to increase performance. Soybean oil helps the tyres remain flexible in cold weather increasing traction in rain and snow. Soybean oil mixes more easily with rubber reducing energy use in production,
The materials and location of tyre production are also very important to tyre production. Rubber is typically produced in tropical areas that have to be shipped all over the world.
“There is a Russian dandelion plant which has in its latex the same DNA as natural rubber,” says, Nikolai Setzer, member of the executive board Continental’s automotive divisions and former head of the tyre division.
“We developed this and planted and extracted the latex. We have proven that the tyres are performing in the same way as natural rubber grown in other ways.”
An added advantage is that dandelions grow like crazy and are not in competition with other agriculture crops because they can grow on minor grounds that don’t produce food. They don’t need a lot of sunshine or water to grow adds Setzer. The project is called Taraxa Gum after the Taraxacum kok-saghyz the botanical name for the plants that can grow Northern and Western Europe.