Peter Becker

Peter Becker

Continuing just-auto's series of interviews with global tyre manufacturers, Matthew Beecham spoke to Peter Becker, Executive Managing Director, Kumho Tire Co Inc about trends in tyre development, modelling, labelling and run-flats.

What are the key trends with tyre development these days?

Ecological tyres with focus on rolling resistance is one of the key trends in tyre development. The challenge will be to maintain all other performances at least on the current level. In this context, weight reduction is becoming more important. It also allows to increase the sustainability of tyres. For sustainability, the whole tyre life cycle will be considered beginning with new raw material sources, ecological manufacturing processes and tyre disposal.

Tall and narrow tyre concepts are also becoming more important with those requirements also driven by the propagation of electric vehicles. This concept allows to keep the load capability and reduce the rolling resistance simultaneously.

Another trend is the increasing number of vehicle types which is leading to a higher variation of tyre designs. To avoid a further increase of the complexity, the usage of vehicle platforms will become more important.

How have improvements in tyre modelling helped you over the past few years?

Tyre modeling is one of the key factors to reduce the development time and improve time to market. The development effort is reduced by using several prediction tools. Certain tyre performances and characteristics can be predicted which is reducing the tyre building and testing. As one of the results, the development capacities can be used more effectively and also the development costs are reducing.

To what extent does the EU tyre label give consumers the full story on a tyre's performance or should they be encouraged to look for test reports?

EU tyre label is only showing three tyre performances: Wet grip, rolling resistance and exterior noise.

This data gives the customer a first indication but is not sufficient to judge the total performance of a tyre.

The tyre manufacturers are evaluating more performance, such as dry-/wet handling, hydroplaning, dry braking, snow braking. An appropriate rating is only possible with all these test results.

Magazines are testing in a similar way and therefore it is recommendable for the consumer to use such tyre test reports for their selection.

Are tyre pressure monitoring systems and run-flat tyres accelerating the removal of the spare tyre?

One of the advantages of run-flat tyres is the potential to remove the spare tyre. The benefit for the customer is weight and cost reduction. In addition to the improvement of safety and mobility, this will remain a good reason for vehicle manufacturers to go on with this technology.

The introduction of TPMS regulation will not lead to a removal of spare tyres. The purpose of these kind of systems is to detect tyre pressure loss and not assure the needed mobility in case of a tyre failure.

How do you see the roll out of the run-flats amongst car segments in Europe?

Run-flat tyres will sustain their position as optional fitment for premium OEM. They will have a significant share in the mid and premium car segments.

Because of cost and development effort reasons in the lower segments, other technologies like sealant tyres will be more interesting to assure extended mobility.

People talk of the intelligent tyre as vehicles change. With newer forms of propulsion, in what ways will the tyre change and adapt to such technology?

The remainder of this interview is available on just-auto's QUBE Global light vehicle OE tyres market- forecasts to 2030