The annual Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland is primarily a high profile car show presenting the very latest automotive technical advancements. It is also increasingly becoming a popular event in terms of tomorrow’s tire innovations, and once again most of Europe’s leading tire manufacturers were exhibiting this year.
Pirelli, Goodyear Dunlop, Yokohama, Bridgestone Europe and Apollo Vredestein all once again presented high profile booths, while Falken was making its debut at the show. I was able to chat at length with all six producers about their different approaches and new technological advancements.
Color me Pirelli
As the chosen tire supplier at the Formula 1 Global Racing Championship, the Milan headquarters of Pirelli was launching two new impressive innovations — a colored edition of its P Zero and Winter Sottozero tire ranges as well as the Pirelli Connesso Platform System.
The special colored editions are, according to Pirelli, being introduced to address the growing demand for personalization from their prestige and premium customers, including distributors.
There are, in fact, two new advancements being launched with the colored tires. The variety of colors available and the stability of the sidewall colors are courtesy of ground-breaking, exclusive technology that is evolved from the Formula One circuits.
Also, a new material has been created to act as a protective barrier that maintains the brilliance of the color and avoids fading without affecting performance. In due course, the respective colored editions of the P Zero and Winter Sottozero will become available around the world for premium car models.The Pirelli Connesso digital platform uses a special sensor that is integrated within Pirelli’s high-end tire ranges to specifically expand on the information already available from a car’s on-board computer, and it provides data about the status, use and maintenance of every tire. The sensor, which is embedded in the tire and connected to the Pirelli Cloud as well as a smartphone app, ensures drivers can constantly communicate with their tires. Another important asset of the system is it measures tire pressure, temperature (even when a car is stationary), static vertical load, tire wear and mileage.
Goodyear Dunlop: 3 concept tires
As in previous shows Goodyear Dunlop was also showcasing its very latest technological advancements, including three new concept tires — the Eagle 360 Urban, IntelliGrip Urban and Goodyear City Cube; the latter has been specifically designed for the all-new Toyota i-TRIL concept car.
The Eagle 360 Urban is the first concept tire to be powered by artificial intelligence (AI), making it able to sense, decide, transform and interact. With a combined bionic skin and morphing tread, the Eagle 360 Urban has the unique ability to put this knowledge into practice, with the tire becoming part of a vehicle’s “nervous system” that rapidly adapts to changing circumstances when driving.The Goodyear IntelliGrip Urban has been specially designed for future generation autonomous electric ride-sharing vehicles in urban areas and incorporates advanced Sensor-in-Tire technology to support autonomous vehicle control systems and enhance passenger safety. The IntelliGrip Urban senses road and weather conditions and transmits the information directly to the vehicle’s computer system in order to optimize speed, braking, handling and stability.
The Goodyear CityCube combines advanced sensor technology with a unique tread design to identify a variety of road conditions. It sends the data to the vehicle to support an advanced collision prevention system.
Falken Ecorun A-A
I also visited newcomer Falken Tyre Europe’s (based in Germany) booth to inspect its new summer tire: the Ecorun A-A. The result of the tire’s fuel saving design features and impressive braking distance levels in wet conditions is a European Union tire labelling rating of AA, with one “A” standing for top fuel efficiency and the other for superior wet grip.Falken said the Ecorun A-A tire is produced from ultra-refined natural “pure rubber,” and incorporates Falken’s advanced 4D Nano Design into the tire compound, giving it exceptional performance in fuel efficiency, wet grip and mileage. The compound also cuts heat build-up and rolling resistance to significantly extend tire life. The product is particularly recommended for hybrid vehicles, and Falken has an exclusive partnership with Toyota for the replacement market.
Falken was also promoting the racing side of its business, and announced it will be lining up with two racing cars from premium German teams this season — Porsche and BMW.
Happy birthday, Yokohama
Yokohama Europe was using this year’s show to primarily celebrate 100 years since the brand was formed in Japan by launching four tire patterns: BluEarth-Es ES32, BluEarth RV-02, BluEarth Winter V905 and the iceGuard iG65. In addition, the company re-introduced its popular Yokohama A008P pattern.
The BluEarth ES32 is a new fuel-efficient global standard tire that will be launched worldwide in a total of 73 size options in 17- and 18-inch rim diameters. The tire not only offers a quartet of benefits — wet grip, wear resistance, durability and fuel efficiency — but also features a unique tread pattern with a wide, square and powerful profile for stable driving performance and safe handling. Also Yokohama’s Nano Blend compound includes orange oil for an optimal balance of high fuel efficiency, superior wet grip and wear resistance.The BluEarth RV-02 will initially target the European crossover, SUV and minivan markets. It has an EU tire label rating of “A” in wet grip performance and “C” for rolling resistance. The tire’s performance characteristics give drivers of crossovers and SUVs a greater sense of stability on rainy days. Also the BluEarth Winter 905 pattern for cars and SUVs will be released for sale toward the end of this year in time for the forthcoming winter season in Europe.
For the harsher winter months in Northern Europe, the new iceGuard iG65 studded tire for passenger cars has been specially manufactured to provide a studded tread that delivers the ultimate performance on challenging icy surfaces. An increased number of studs in the tread plus a new stud-hole allocation that places the studs at the center of the tire increase overall driving performance on snowy, wet and even hard, dry surfaces.
Yokohama also added a touch of nostalgia to the show with the return of its popular A008P tire, a landmark pattern for the company. It will be available in two special sizes – 205/55ZR16 91W for front tires and 245/45ZR16 94W for rear tires. The original A008P was launched in 1989, and a prototype of the new tire was on display fitted to a classic Porsche 911 930 Turbo Cabriolet saloon. Finally, Yokohama’s revealed it has an historic 100th anniversary micro-site that highlights the different milestones in the company’s history and product range. The micro-site presents two distinctive timelines: a corporate history program and a product history version.
No new products, but...
I was also informed by Bridgestone Europe that at this year’s event, the company was not introducing any products, instead concentrating on officially activating its Olympic Games Partnership within the EMEA region that will run through to 2024. Paolo Ferrari, Bridgestone EMEA’s CEO and president, and Christophe Dubi, the International Olympic Games Committee’s executive director, jointly made a presentation to confirm the sponsorship would be Bridgestone’s main marketing promotion for the next seven years.
Netherlands-based Apollo Vredestein also was not launching any new products at the show. Managing Director Neeraj Kanwar informed me the company was using this year’s event to further establish its growing presence in Europe as part of an international corporate growth plan for the immediate future.
“There is no doubt that for the future, North America will become another important market for Apollo Vredestein as we move even further in our plan for truly global coverage in due course,” he said.
It was obvious talking with the six tire manufacturers that all their imminent projects and expectations include the North American market, and in a way, this show was like “a voyage into the future” in terms of tire innovation. Also it is very clear there is a definite increase in the cooperation between car and tire manufacturers toward a point where tires will “talk” to a vehicle and driver... eventually. ■
John Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the last 26 years. In 2004, he launched his own consulting company, Sapphire Media Services, which caters to business media clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.
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