This morning, Goodyear put out a press release regarding their extension of pneumatic-free tire testing to electric vehicles. The Akron, Ohio based tire manufacturer had previously performed durability tests of the updated airless architecture, reaching speeds of up to 100mph, and has since turned their attention to high-performance EVs.
At Akron Proving Grounds, the company utilized a Tesla Model 3 to test the maneuverability of the tires at speeds of up to 55mph. Goodyear also tested acceleration and deceleration, but those tests are not shown in this video.
Michael Rachita, Goodyear’s senior program manager of non-pneumatic tires, states, “We are excited to progress to this new phase of testing and stretch the imagination on what can be possible with airless tires.”
The video shows the tires being put through a series of slalom and hard cornering tests. Some tire squeal can be heard underneath the music, but they seems to handle the heavy electric car relatively well. A quick shot of the cabin shows the Goodyear test pilots seemingly enjoying themselves.
“We have shown that Goodyear’s NPTs can achieve highway speeds while also maintaining the dynamic handling required for a consumer vehicle, which is a meaningful milestone,” Rachita continues.
However, without being inside the vehicle it is difficult to tell how these air-free tires will feel under harsh lateral movement. Let’s keep in mind that while EVs are typically much heavier than their ICE counterparts, the weight is kept lower to the ground which helps in the corners. Hopefully, we will get to test these tires out for ourselves.
Looking at the photos, one can notice the most striking difference from a traditional tire is the lack of a sidewall. This allows us to see a cross section of the interior, which looks to have several layers of X-shaped support mechanisms. We can see that at a complete stop, the tires are supporting a Tesla Model 3 roughly the same as a traditional tire.
Being airless means that consumers no longer need to concern themselves with interior pneumatic pressure. Traditional tires need air pressure to function, and that can lead to complications when altitude or temperature changes dramatically, or a nail punctures the rubber wall or tread. With Goodyear’s air-free tires, no one needs to decrease the pressure before climbing a mountain, or worry about leakage if a puncture occurs. I would assume that someone could drive a significant distance without ever knowing that they have a nail in one of these tires.
In addition to testing out airless tires on consumer vehicles, Goodyear has also tested them on autonomous passenger shuttles, specifically a shuttle nicknamed “Olli”. Residents of Jacksonville, OH can experience this new form of urban transportation today.
Goodyear’s goal is to make maintenance-free airless tires with completely sustainable materials by 2030. This explains their push for EV testing, as offering sustainable tires to go on a customer’s sustainable car is probably a big selling point. So far, it seems like they are well on their way to reaching that goal.