Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has completed work under a $1.5 million government grant to develop advanced tire technology aimed at increasing vehicle fuel efficiency. The company says its technical team exceeded the grant’s goals for tire weight reduction and fuel efficiency.
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, called for Cooper to develop technology for light vehicle tires that delivered a minimum 3% improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency while lowering average tire weight by at least 20% , all without sacrificing performance.
Cooper succeeded in developing technologies that exceeded the project’s goals. Cooper says it elivered average fuel efficiency improvement of 5.5% and weight reduction ranging from 23% to 37% in concept tires.
The grant period began in late 2011 and continued through the end of 2014, with Cooper recently presenting its findings to the DOE.
Tire development work under the grant was done at Cooper’s North America and Global Technical Centers, both located in Findlay, Ohio.
“The technical challenges presented by this program were significant, yet the work was extremely gratifying as we addressed sustainability and performance,” says Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper’s senior vice president of global research and development.
“Improving vehicle fuel efficiency by a minimum of 3% was accomplished by developing a product with more than 30% lower rolling resistance.
“Reducing tire weight by a minimum of 20% required us to make a product that is five to six pounds lighter than the baseline 26-pound tire. All of this was accomplished without any trade-offs in performance or durability.”
How they did it
“Our innovative approach was to develop a new energy efficient tire profile and design in combination with an ultra lightweight tire construction,” says Yurkovich.
“The process utilized innovative materials not typically used in tires today. In all, we developed and evaluated six new technologies as part of the program’s first phase.
“We also evaluated the holistic impact of putting all of these technologies into a concept tire in the program’s second phase. Combining these advancements allowed us to reach and exceed the grant’s aggressive goals. We are extremely proud of the team’s achievements.”
As a result of the grant work, Cooper has already incorporated new tire modeling technology into its development process and is evaluating long wearing and fuel efficient tread compound technology for use in future tires for the replacement and original equipment markets.
Other technologies are being developed for potential commercial applications in the future.
“While we have more work to do to fully assess commercial viability of some of these new features, we certainly have taken leaps forward in developing tire technologies with strong potential for consumer benefit,” Yurkovich says.
For more information about Cooper’s products, visit www.coopertire.com.
Cooper celebrated its first century in business in 2014. Modern Tire Dealer Editor Bob Ulrich recalls his experiences with the company over the last three decades in “Cooper Tire: 100 years and counting.”