Using lasers, Goodyear carves tires for NAIAS

Jan. 10, 2012

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. provided prototype tires to two Chevrolet concept vehicles at the 2011 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Mich. The show, which opened in Cobo Hall on Jan. 9, will run through Jan. 27.

In the Chevrolet stable of preview vehicles, the Code 130R and the Tru 140S feature Goodyear concept tires. Goodyear’s Tire Design Studio in Akron, Ohio, developed the special tires for the vehicles working with GM engineers. Tire engineers then providing one-of-a-kind carved tires for the high-profile auto show fitment.

“Our aim is to support our auto maker customers by providing them tire design and manufacturing know-how that fits with their requirements," says Johann Finkelmeier, vice president of original equipment tires. "While our goal is to capture tire fitment selections on the best high-image vehicles, we know that achievement is possible only through a dedication to providing innovation and quality in our products.”

1. The Code 130R is a four-seat coupe featuring performance-inspired styling and rear-wheel drive. The concept balances turbocharged performance with fuel economy.

The tread of the complementing tires was designed to have the rubber distribution of a popular Goodyear Eagle ultra-high performance tire, with styling to complement the vehicle. The asymmetric tread design is in concert with the center line of the car.

2. The Tru 140S is a front-wheel-drive, “affordable exotic” four-seat sporty coupe, according to General Motor Corp. The tires for the Tru 140S began with the familiar Chevrolet chevron design, evolving into the final design.

The concept tires were manufactured as smooth tread tires in Goodyear’s Luxembourg facility; the distinctive tread designs were carved by a programmed laser at the same facility. Texture in the tread surface, along with serrations in some of the tread grooves, were added.

“Probably one of the best-kept styling secrets at any major auto show is the artistic work that’s presented on the tires of many of the high-profile vehicles,” says Paul Maxwell, principal designer in Goodyear’s Tire Design Studio. “There is little doubt that the cars are the stars at these auto shows, but the tires ought to get some attention for their strong supporting role.”

Among past examples of Goodyear’s one-of-a-kind concept tires for auto shows and other activities are:

* the “Snakeskin” tire for the 1997 Dodge Copperhead concept car;

* the “big block” tire for the Ford F-350 “Tonka” truck in 2002;

* a “Porsche logo” tire for the 1993 Porsche Boxster concept;

* a “sweeping” tread design for the 2006 Chevrolet Camaro concept; and

* the “Bat” tire for the famous Batmobile movie car.

Seemingly futuristic run-flat tires and wild-looking concept tires from Goodyear aren’t just the result of a tire design engineer’s wild imagination. They are requested components for some of the most popular concept vehicles displayed at auto shows. Those vehicles often evolve into reality in the form of production models.

“Concept tire development is important, because it allows us to contribute to automotive design trends that soon may be coming down the road," says Maxwell. "Communication between the auto maker and tire maker is paramount to keeping image and messages consistent through design.”

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