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Amerityre technology: Polyurethane passenger tire passes first test

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Amerityre technology: Polyurethane passenger tire passes first test

A polyurethane passenger tire from Amerityre Corp. successfully passed the government's new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 139. Will this lead to a paradigm shift in tire manufacturing? Time will tell.

Amerityre CEO and President Gary Benninger is optimistic, however, that his process, which has translated seamlessly into industrial tire production and retreading applications, will work on a broader scale. The Arcus brand run-flat design that passed government testing is one of two prototype tire designs that the company has developed to date.

Amerityre displayed the Arcus tire at the SEMA Show, where MTD sat down with Benninger.

"We are materials people," he says. "We are going to make our pneumatic car tire available to people who are willing to move forward with us to further this technology.

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We've been contacted by tire manufacturers and car companies regarding this technology. Potential partners really have to validate it for themselves." FMVSS No. 139 is the updated version of FMVSS No. 109. The new standard runs both the high-speed and durability tests at higher speeds than the old standard.

In addition, a low-air pressure test has been added.

Benninger says the advantages of a passenger tire made out of Amerityre's proprietary polyurethane elastomer material -- plus plies, beads and belts -- versus a rubber tire are longer tread life, significantly lower rolling resistance and a more environmentally friendly compound. "Polyurethane is an inert material. It doesn't degrade."

Flatspotting, a problem in the past with polyurethane tires, is limited because the material remains as stable as a rubber tire under higher temperatures.

"We're anticipating a slight cost savings," he says. "The material will probably be slightly more, but we'll more than make up for it in manufacturing process savings. You have to make it differently because it's a liquid."

Amerityre also has developed closed-cell (i.e., lower density) polyurethane materials that have been used to manufacture tires for golf carts, wheelbarrows, wheel chairs, dollies, airport luggage carts and bicycles. The company also markets tire fill.

In addition, it recently licensed its tread-making technology to Desert Research Technology Inc., which will manufacture tires for its sand vehicles. Desert Research will be able to change tread patterns and lug shapes on a rubber carcass as it sees fit in an effort to improve tire performance, according to Benninger.

He says a Chinese partner is building a manufacturing facility to retread large OTR tires using Amerityre's technology. "We are currently delivering to him the largest known polyurethane pour machine. It has the capacity of delivering 3,000 pounds of polyurethane in a minute."

A mass-produced polyurethane passenger tire is no longer a pipe dream, according to Benninger. "We've taken it through proof of concept."

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General Grabber HTS

Continental Tire North America Inc. (CTNA) will complete its General Grabber light truck and SUV tire line with the introduction of the Grabber HTS during the second quarter of 2008.

The replacement tire was designed to provide all-season performance and a quiet, comfortable ride. It borrows compounding and tire development techniques learned from manufacturing Grabber competition tires, according to CTNA Product Designer Matt Lamb. "The compounding and construction... directly feed into the durability of a highway tire."

Engineering a long-wearing tire with both wet and dry traction is a balancing act, says Lamb. "We look at the siping configurations that will enhance the performance in different weather conditions. That is why you will see three different types of sipes in the Grabber HTS tread pattern." (Continental's

"Triple Sipe Concept" is patent pending.) The tire features Duragen-reinforced body construction, which includes the following:

* an ultra-high tensile steel-belt system (Nano Pro-Belt System).

* a unique tread pattern design matched with a high extension compound to reduce stress. "The chamfers along the block edges help reduce the impact of the tread blocks against the road surface," says Lamb.

* Micro-Sync Fibers, which bond the rubber compound to reinforcing materials.

The HTS will be launched in 33 S- and T-rated sizes ranging from 265/70SR15 through 275/45SR20. That includes one V-rated size (275/55R17) and seven LT sizes.

An additional 33 sizes ranging from 255/70SR15 through 275/60SR20 will be introduced in the third quarter of 2008.

In addition to the HTS, the Grabber line includes the Grabber AT2 and Grabber UHP. According to CTNA Director of Marketing Travis Roffler, the company will replace the AT2 with a next-generation tire within the next two years.

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GITI's Champiro, Adventuro

"We're bringing in new products and adding valued marketing programs to help our dealers," says Tom Adams, director of marketing for GITI Tire (USA) Ltd. The company's latest introductions are the Champiro 528 SUV tire and the Adventuro A/T II light truck tire. The Champiro 528 is available in six V-rated sizes as follows:

20-inch: 275/45R20, 285/50R20, 295/50R20 and 275/55R20.

22-inch: 285/45R22 and 305/45R22.

The tire's tread design features progressive elements for handling stability. In addition, streamlined, high-angle grooves help disperse water even at high speeds.

The directional, all-season tire also has a wide casing profile and variable pitch design "for comfortable and quiet performance," according to the company.

The Adventuro A/T II is available in eight S-rated LT sizes. (Although the A/T II shares sizes with the Adventuro A/T, the A/T line is not being eliminated.)

It features continuous central blocks and open shoulder grooves with wide lugs, and is constructed with a full nylon cap ply.

Adams says a third new tire, the Runway Enduro M/T, is "well-placed with TAG (Tire Alliance Groupe)."

GITI also introduced its dealer Web portal, which allows customers to review packing lists, browse the company's product catalog, retrieve invoices, track orders and redeem "GITI Bucks" for promotional merchandise.

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Vredestein Quatrac 3

Vredestein Tyres North America Inc. says it has taken its Quatrac 2 to the next level. The result is the Quatrac 3 asymmetrical all-season tire.

The next-generation tire has a winter and a passenger side, according to Vredestein Sales Manager Al Smoke. "That's the new evolution in all-season tires."

The tire's inner section has an open winter tread structure with undulating sipes. Its outermost summer side has a lower air ratio (more rubber, less air) and a small number of straight sipes. In summer conditions, this produces extra grip on the outer shoulder on both dry and wet surfaces.

The Quatrac 3 bears both the Snowflake winter tire symbol and the standard M&S symbol. It is available in H- and V-rated sizes. The V-rated sizes range from 195/65R15 to 225/45R17 XL. There are also two run-flat sizes: 195/55VR16 and 205/55VR16.

Vredestein's Wintrac Xtreme high performance winter tire also has new run-flat sizes that will match BMW and Mini-Cooper run-flat sizes. They are 205/55HR16, 225/50HR17, 205/45VR17 and 225/45VR17.

Cooper Zeon LTZ

The Cooper Zeon LTZ initially will be available only through Discount Tire Co. However, the goal is to make it available to Cooper's other dealers during the second quarter of 2008, according to a Cooper spokesperson.

Featuring an all-terrain design, the LTZ is available in eight S-rated, extra-load sizes ranging from 285/60R18 through 305/35R24.

The tread pattern has transverse and circumferential grooves designed to direct water away from the tire. Its shoulder lugs are alternately scalloped and offset for traction on sand and mud.

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Toyo Proxes R1R

Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp. introduced an extreme performance tire designed for sport coupes and sedans. The Proxes R1R contains the following features:

* a dynamic arrowhead tread pattern for water drainage and wet performance.

* a wide footprint designed to deliver both ultimate handling and an aggressive appearance.

* a high-grip compound that works in concert with an autocross-inspired casing, a product of Toyo's Tmode advanced computer design technology.

* a rim protector molded into the sidewall to help protect expensive wheels from curb damage.

* a high-steel side ply that helps ensure a rapid steering response.

* a spiral-wound cap ply that "contributes to high-speed stability," according to Toyo.

The street-legal tire is available in four sizes. Several additional sizes will be introduced through the middle of 2008. Its size range will span 15- through 18-inch rim diameters.

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South Korean imports

Nexen Tire America Inc. displayed a new ultra-high performance summer tire, the N6000. The tire targets sports cars and contains a high performance tread compound, as well as a directional tread pattern for extra wet surface traction. It is available in 16 sizes, ranging from 35-series to 55-series in aspect ratio and 17 inches to 20 inches in rim diameter.

Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc. unveiled its new Ecsta LX Platinum luxury touring tire. It will be available during the first quarter of 2008 in more than 35 H-, V- and W-rated sizes, ranging from 14 inches to 19 inches in diameter. The line-up will include two run-flat sizes.

The tire features an asymmetrical tread design, three dimensional waffle sipes, a jointless nylon cap, and a 60,000-mile limited tread wear warranty.

Hankook Tire America Corp.'s Ventus V12 evo K110 utilizes the latest technology to maximize steering response and improve high-speed stability on both dry and wet surfaces. "The technology, developed on the race track, seamlessly delivers one of the smoothest rides out there," said Dave Martin, ultra-high performance tire engineer.

The tire comes in 59 Z-rated, extra-load sizes ranging from 245/40R17 XL to 245/35R21 XL. It also is available in size 285/35YR19.

Kenda Komet Plus

The new Kenda Komet Plus is an all-season tire with unique features developed by Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. They include the following:

* special compounding and carcass design concepts.

* an exclusive formula that adds an extra layer of padding for ride comfort.

* an advanced shoulder design that enhances tire stiffness, which results in more even wear.

The Komet Plus is available in 13- through 16-inch sizes, ranging from 155/80TR13 through 225/60HR16. Aspect ratios range from 80-series through 55-series with the 185/55HR14.

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Off-the-road (!) tires

The SEMA Show may have been part of Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, but that didn't keep OTR and farm tire manufacturers off the TIA Performance Tires & Wheels trade show floor.

For example, Titan International Inc. showcased Goodyear brand farm tires at the show for the first time since purchasing Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s farm tire division in 2006.

New OTR products were displayed by two China-based companies: Techking Tires Ltd. (Qingdao, P.R.) and Double Coin Holdings Ltd. (Shanghai, by way of Monrovia, Calif., where its domestic marketing arm, China Manufacturers Alliance LLC, is based).

Techking introduced three large OTR tires. The ETLDD2 L5 tire's rugged, square-shouldered design offers driving stability and cut resistance. The aggressive, open tread pattern provides grip and traction. The tire is available in five radial sizes: 23.5R25, 26.5R25, 29.5R25, 29.5R29 and 35/65R33.

Techking's ETADT's tread pattern is engineered to provide good traction, flotation and operation comfort. It's available in three sizes: 26.5R25, 29.5R25 and 29.5R29.

The firm's ETGC tire is designed for use on cranes, trucks, flatbeds and fire and rescue vehicles. The tire is available in six sizes: 385/95R24, 385/95R25, 445/95R25, 445/80R25, 525/80R25 and 505/95R25.

China Manufacturers Alliance LLC (CMA) is getting ready to market large OTR radial tires in the U.S. Its first two Double Coin offerings are the following:

1. REM-9, a radial rock mining tire. The traction tire features a special compound for severe rock applications. It is available in size 24.00R35.

2. REM-18, a radial loader lug tire available in size 35/65R33.. The tire's wide tread design features a center riding rib for a smooth ride.

"We're getting production in December, and they will be in the market in the first quarter of 2008," says Aaron Murphy, vice president of CMA. "And we will be adding to the line."

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Tons of all-terrain fun: Nitto designs Dura Grappler with trucks in mind

Nitto Tire North America Inc. is targeting 3/4- and one-ton trucks with its new Dura Grappler highway terrain tire. Many of the line's sizes are normally associated with all-terrain tires.

The Dura Grappler is available in 15 light truck sizes ranging from the popular LT235/85R16 to the uncommon LT285/50R22. The tire features a four-rib tread pattern with multi-slanted blocks and waved sipes for all-season performance.

"They are E-load range sizes, so you can maintain the same recommended OE inflation pressure required for tire pressure monitoring systems," says Conrad Galamgam, director of Nitto's technical department.

"The one-ton and 3/4-ton truck markets have boomed dramatically. But our Plus-Zero applications - a little taller and a little wider - have historically only come in all-terrain sizes."

Four of the sizes are manufactured using the company's new Dura-Belt technology: LT265/75R16, LT245/75R17, LT265/70R17 and LT275/65R18. They feature three steel belts, a 45,000-mile limited tread-wear warranty, and a Dura-Belt sidewall label.

Four LT sizes will be added to the line in the second quarter of 2008: LT285/75R17, LT305/70R18, LT325/60R18 and LT305/55R20.

The Dura Grappler also is available in one P-metric (P265/65TR17) and two metric (265/60HR18, 275/55HR20 XL) sizes, with more to follow.

The tire is part of Nitto's strategy of focusing on particular niches, "and putting a twist to them," says Galamgam.

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