WE SHOULDN’T expect 2017 to make a revolution in the tyre industry.
Tyre manufacturers won’t surprise us with ground-breaking technologies, but those introduced earlier will get a great deal of reconsideration and refinement. This basically refers to lowering the tyre’s rolling resistance and its profile. First is for the prosaic fuel-saving purpose, and the second is for the lofty whim of style.
Mytyres.co.uk, Britain’s leading tyre dealer, sums up the major tyre improvements in 2017…
Low-rolling resistance as mantra
Urged by tight fuel economy demands, leading auto and tyre makers are persistently working on decreasing the rolling resistance, the factor that causes the vehicle to expend more energy on movement. But helping tyres roll easier wasn’t as hard as making customers buy them, because the lower rolling resistance means worse wet traction and, therefore, safety. With such trade-offs, LRR tyres remain a niche product and therefore an even more expensive one. Pricey tyres that help save on fuel anyone?
So the tyre manufacturers are polishing their technologies, trying to find the balance between a quality ride and a fuel economy. With hybrids and electric vehicles boldly stepping into the market, low-rolling resistance tyres are here to stay for good and promise to become better. Some great models to consider are Bridgestone’s Ecopia, Michelin’s Energy or Continental’s Contact.
The fashion for lower tyre profiles, lighter sidewalls and a more elegant look is retained, and OEMs ride the wave and develop whole vehicle designs with both head-turning and fuel-efficient tyres.
Smart tyre-pressure and tread monitoring system
Tyre manufacturers are aiming at developing tread sensors that will help the on-board computer to detect and alert the driver to excessive tyre wear or when the vehicle’s load capacity is exceeded. Maintaining the car may soon become fully automated.
Crushing tyre stereotypes
We don’t mean the tyres became rounder, but they definitely became better. We got used to the stereotype of all-season tyres being actually three-season tyres without any grip guarantees in winter. Today’s all-season tyres turn this truth into a myth (check Cooper Zeon RS3-G1 with its super-stable wide footprint and excellent grip for harsh cornering). But ultra-high-performance tyres won’t be left in the dust. The manufacturers managed to combine their wet/dry driving performance with a low road noise and comfort that were previously the all-seasons’ prerogatives. The UHP touring tyre has already become a trend.
Back to the wild nature
Last year’s Global Tire Expo, showcasing more mud-terrain tyres than before, outlined a trend: the pastime of off-roading is gaining in popularity. Manufacturers take crazy hobbies seriously and devote a big part of their displays to mud and even extreme mud tyres.
Classic tyre’s renaissance
With so many car enthusiasts harbouring tender feelings towards barn finds, the restoration tyre segment is working hard to meet the need for vintage-looking tyres’ compliance with modern safety standards. For those who have a passion for authenticity, only original or ‘new old-stock’ tyres will do. Trying to fill the gap, tyre reproduction companies use vintage moulds to produce tyres looking exactly like their 60-year-old bias-ply counterparts – same size, lettering fonts and sidewall designs – but with top safety characteristics enabled by modern materials. It’s remarkable that not only race cars and elegant head-turners from the past era gain popularity but also classic trucks and muscle cars from the ’60s and ’70s.
Wheels: the bigger, the cooler
OEMs are nuts about big wheels increasing presence, and the trend is here to stay, despite bigger wheels often running counter to handling and ride performance. To stand out in the market, automakers seek the eye-catching wheel design that sells. Check out the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrofoglio and you’ll realise that the bar is already very high.