GM’s ‘Autonomy’ fuel cell concept platform that went on show at NAIAS featured specially developed low-rolling resistant tyres according to Goodyear.

Goodyear said the 22-inch tyres reduce rolling resistance – power-robbing friction between the tyre and road. The company says that the new ‘E-metric’ tyre (newly designated for use on electric or hybrid vehicles) operates at higher inflation pressures, reduced load percentages and lower rolling resistance.

To soften the ride of tyres pumped with additional air, “We developed a new tyre profile,” Bill EGAN, chief engineer of advanced tyre technology, said. “A narrower rim width and rounder sidewalls make the tyre more shock-absorbent.”

To make the tyres roll more freely, low-rolling-resistant tread compounds were moulded into smaller tread elements that flexed easily – and with less friction – when it touched the road, Egan said.

“The leaf (tread) pattern is effective on two fronts,” he added. “It helps the tread pattern flex and it visually sends the message that Autonomy is environmentally friendly.”

General Motors’ 6-inch-thick, skateboard-like chassis for the Autonomy houses the fuel cell and electronic wires for all controls. The automaker said the chassis would last about 20 years.

The chassis could be fitted with a variety of bodies. A growing family could change from a sporty sedan to a larger sport-utility vehicle by switching the body, a cheaper alternative to buying a new vehicle, GM officials said.

Egan said tyremakers also could design tyres for the changing needs of the family. A body switch might also include a tyre change; however, engineering tyres for low-rolling resistance would improve fuel-cell efficiency.