The first and the ultimate raison d'être of a tyre is to hold a vehicle on the road as a primary safety measure. It has other important functions, too, like providing steering response and comfort.
The car sector is the biggest user of tyres but the tyre business does not stop there: First, transport means the movement of both passengers and goods, and both are dependent on tyres. Second, transport by both land and air requires tyres.
Start with the air transport. Just imagine landing without rubber tyres absorbing the hard impact when the plane meets the runway and...you wouldn't like to fly. Land transport can be divided into road and rail. Even in rail sector, there are some high speed trains which use rubber around the wheels to smoothen the roll. An important factor nevertheless! On roads, however, everybody uses tyres: Truckers, cyclists, motorcyclists, car drivers, are all dependent on tyres. Just imagine driving a vehicle with wheels made of wood, iron or whatever – other than well gripping rubber tyres and...you wouldn't like to drive.
Who invented the first tyre?
In 1846, Robert William Thomson, a Scottish railroad engineer, manufactured and obtained the patent for the "aerial wheel". His invention consisted of a tube made up of "a number of folds of canvas, saturated and covered on both sides with rubber or gutta-percha" (a substance obtained from the latex of a Malaysian tree), then vulcanised and covered with leather. The tube made in this way.
In 1888, the veterinary surgeon John Boyd Dunlop imagined a wheel, which associated fabric, gum, leather and air. This imperfect tyre was rapidly applied to bicycles and gained a sharp success.
Later in 1891, 2 brothers, André & Edouard Michelin created the dismountable tyre. This invention can be considered as the ancestor of the tyre we know today.