As one of the world’s largest tyre producers, Goodyear’s brands include Goodyear, Dunlop , Kelly, Fulda, Debica , SAVA and various house brands. In this interview, Matthew Beecham talked with James Bailey, manager, corporate communications at Goodyear Dunlop UK about the opportunities being offered by TPMS , Goodyear’s innovations which directly affect the tyre’s rolling resistance and the European Commission’s mandatory tyre labelling.

just-auto: Now that legislation is coming in to make TPMS mandatory, the motorist no longer has to pay extra. What is the future for this technology? Do you think that indirect TPMS will become a standard feature of future ESC systems?

James Bailey: All ESC systems have the hardware required to implement indirect TPMS; indirect TPMS is a software routine which is refined to work on individual vehicle models through an extensive vehicle/tyre testing programme. The cost of implementation will be only a few euros per vehicle and this will be the most cost effective method of meeting the new EU TPMS regulation requirements in the future – so yes, one day they will become standard on future ESP systems.

j-a: As I understand it, TPMS technology is evolving to the point where one scenario could be this: As soon as the TPMS tells you that your tyre needs servicing, the nearest licensed service station will be automatically alerted through your car’s GPS, giving you directions to a site where qualified personnel will be awaiting your arrival. How far away are we from achieving this?

JB: This scenario only has the potential to work with RunOnFlat tyres, and is potentially very dangerous with normal tyres. It is one of the long-term possibilities for the RunOnFlat technology that we manufacture. We do not find acceptable any TPMS implementation that allows any tyre to be driven below the ETRTO minimum inflation for the application’s load and speed without issuing an immediate warning to the driver.

j-a: In the early days of indirect TPMS development, it was said that the system had within it all the information required to create a vehicle ‘black box’ similar to that found on aircraft. Yet as we see it, this idea never really took off into mainstream vehicles. Would you agree? In what other ways are TPMS being developed?

JB: Indirect TPMS takes all of its data from the ABS/ESP system. So it is the ABS/ESP system that could have the information to create a black box.

Goodyear would, of course, welcome having a vehicle recording of tyre pressure. We could use this to analyse any tyre-related incidents and show the contribution of incorrect inflation in tyre problems.

But vehicle black boxes would also show what the driver was doing and whether he was speeding etc. It is not the issue of TPMS that has prevented black boxes [from] appearing in vehicles [as] there are many other issues, such as civil liberties issues.

Linking TPMS with tyre load detection on the vehicle would allow it to give you the best recommended tyre pressure for the current load of your vehicle before going on holiday, or recommend different pressures for different conditions. There are tremendous opportunities.

j-a: Run-flats have done a lot to improve vehicle safety yet come with a high price tag. Do you see technological evolution bringing run-flat and self-inflating tyres into the cheaper mainstream?

JB: Goodyear and Dunlop RunOnFlats are already a popular option on more mainstream cars such as the MINI and BMW 1 Series. Ten years ago, it was a technology that you only really saw in the limousine or supercar segment, for example, on the 7 Series BMW or Corvette. As more customers therefore experience the benefits of RunOnFlat tyres, we expect them to demand the same levels of security and safety in their next vehicle purchase.

The difficulties of packaging a car to meet safety legislation, provide adequate boot and passenger space and, increasingly, to accommodate alternative fuel cells or hybrid technology means that the spare wheel is becoming a dispensable part of car design.

Whilst there are other mobility solutions, such as inflation canisters available, none of the solutions offers the convenience, safety and personal security benefits of RunOnFlat technology.

j-a: In addition to driver safety, the current focus is to find ways in which to reduce CO2 emissions. As 25% of all CO2 emissions are generated by road traffic and about 20-30% of a vehicle’s energy consumption can be attributed to tyres alone, measures to improve rolling resistance remain a top priority. Could you draw on an example of a recent tyre innovation which demonstrates how your company has reduced rolling resistance?

JB: The latest Goodyear EfficientGrip features our ‘FuelSaving Technology’. This comprises several technology advances which directly affect the tyre’s rolling resistance: an improved construction with special lightweight materials; an enhanced building and manufacturing process and an innovative compound technology with a new material formulation that delivers excellent results in mileage, wet braking and rolling resistance.

Using new materials and an efficient structure, the tyre’s weight has been reduced by about 10%. Less material with less heat generation leads to reduced rolling resistance levels. Compared to its predecessor, the EfficientGrip features a lower polyester ply end and a sidewall using less material, which contributes to the lower weight as well as to reduced rolling resistance.

Part of this technology is a patented CoolCushion Layer. A new thermoplastic ingredient used as a reinforcing agent partially replaces carbon black for less weight and less heat generation, resulting in a further decrease in rolling resistance.

Rolling resistance is mainly caused by the energy loss due to the deformation of the tyre. Less deformation means less energy loss and hence, less rolling resistance. Goodyear engineers used the latest computer simulation technologies to analyse the tyre’s potential deformation behaviour during driving. To reduce tyre deformation you need to look at all parts of the tyre and not only at one element. For the EfficientGrip, we developed a new tyre shape and structure, and used materials that are very strong and lightweight.

However, Goodyear has a focus on wet weather safety as a priority. Award-winning tyres such as OptiGrip are evidence of our technology in this area. In EfficientGrip, we haven’t compromised on this in the pursuit of fuel saving. For the tyre’s wet performance, we mainly improved the tread design with its grooves and blades and developed an innovative silica tread compound.

j-a: As we see it, most tyre manufacturers offer a low rolling resistance tyre in their range yet few currently advertise the use of the silica-silane technology in their commercial vehicle ranges.

JB: On the contrary. The performance of long haul truck tyres has an impact on about 30% of the total operational costs. The focus on fleet running costs in the commercial vehicle sector means that this has been a priority in truck tyre design for many years. For example, in 2007 Goodyear launched the Marathon range of truck tyres with FuelMax Technology – including a new specifically developed tread compound. This resulted in low rolling resistance, and consequently reduced fuel consumption and emissions.

j-a: In addition to low rolling resistance, low tyre/road noise is a requirement imposed on modern tyres for environmental and economic considerations. Could you draw on an example of a recent tyre innovation which demonstrates how your company has reduced rolling tyre noise, perhaps highlighting certain new processes or developments?

JB: Our tyres have tread blocks of different varying lengths specially designed to reduce noise and boost the ride comfort provided. The random block sizes break up the noise frequency as the tyre rolls, reducing road noise both inside and outside of the car.

j-a: In what ways will information on the new EU tyre regulatory standards provide a better service for the end-consumer?

JB: The proposal of the European Commission introduces mandatory tyre labelling based on integrated performances and aims at influencing consumers to buy especially more energy efficient and safer tyres through the provision of harmonised and easy to understand information. The tyre is the only contact area with the road surface, it therefore plays a key role for the braking performance and its rolling resistance directly impacts vehicle fuel consumption and emissions at large. The availability of reliable and comparable information on tyre performance will make it easier for the end-user to consider these elements before he takes a purchase decision. Therefore, we welcome the initiative.

j-a: In your view, what tyre regulatory information needs to be communicated to the consumer?

JB: The label communicates wet grip, road noise and rolling resistance. We welcome the regulation to communicate this – they are important factors for customers to consider. A recent Auto Express tyre test [September 2009] showed that our Goodyear OptiGrip had a 23% safer performance than one of the budget brands tested, and scored an incredible 20% better than the similarly priced Michelin Primacy HP in the curved aquaplaning test. In the wet stopping distance test, the Goodyear stopped 7-m shorter from just 50mph than another brand of tyre. That is equivalent to the length of two small family cars. It is difficult to communicate this kind of information to motorists who don’t read tyre tests, so the label will help on this.

j-a: As I understand it, truck tyres are included in the requirement for tyre labelling. Would you agree that, given the importance of truck tyres to the economy of fleet transport, purchasers of truck tyres should receive greater clarity through the use of labelling?

JB: Truck tyres are included in the labelling. However, most truck tyres are sourced and specified by qualified fleet managers and engineers, rather than drivers, and they are arguably more qualified in the importance of tyre choice than the average motorist. However, the label will still benefit them in making their choice of tyres.

j-a: Ultimately, I guess if the information on the tyre sidewall was easier to read, it could be a better method of communicating information instead of sticky pictogram labels which could be dirty, incorrect or even missing at the point-of-sale. Would you agree?

JB: We will comply with the EC rules on labelling. However, the information must be available in promotional literature (leaflets, brochures, etc), including our website. This is important, as many customers don’t see the tyre after until they have chosen it.

j-a: 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?

JB: In the last decade we have seen the emergence of technologies such RunOnFlat, TPMS, Fuel Saving Technology and Duraseal self-sealing technology for truck tyres. The next decade promises to be even more exciting! I can’t share the detail of our secrets, but a great example of innovation is SmartWear Technology.

Previewed on Goodyear OptiGrip, launched last year, SmartWearTechnology is designed to reveal a new tread design and compound as it wears, ensuring it achieves ‘as new’ levels of performance over its whole lifetime – without having to compromise on mileage. No one thought this was possible a few years ago. It shows what is possible with a relentless focus on innovation.

 

Goodyear develops and manufactures tyres for cars, trucks, buses, aviation, motorcycles, earthmoving and mining equipment, industrial equipment and other applications. The company serves the OE and aftermarket. Its brands include Goodyear, Dunlop, Kelly, Fulda, Debica and Sava as well as other ‘house’ brands and private-label brands of other companies. Goodyear also manufactures rubber-related chemicals for various applications. The company is one of the world’s largest operators of commercial truck service and tyre retreading centres. The company operates 61 factories in 25 countries. All in all, Goodyear currently employs 74,700 people.