Tyres are crucial to move both people and goods. On roads, just about everybody uses tyres: truckers, cyclists, motorcyclists and drivers need tyres to move around towns and cities smoothly and safely. They are also essential for several economic activities as well as for aviation and rail transport, as some high-speed trains use rubber around their wheels to smoothen the roll.
Tyres are first and foremost an essential safety feature of the vehicle. They hold the vehicle to the road and allow steering response and comfort and are the only link between your vehicle and the road. They:
1. Provide grip for braking and acceleration
2. Maintain steering and directional control
3. Support the weight of the vehicle
4. Act as a shock absorber for vibration from the road
The EU tyre market is the most technologically advanced in the world. These constant developments are driven by the increasingly ambitious regulatory agenda as well as the increasing requirements of the customers (whether consumers or the automotive industry). Resource conservation and fuel economy are amongst the focus points of such innovations, that are geared towards safer and more environmentally sound mobility options. The industry proactively identifies and addresses the potential human health and environmental impacts associated with the tyres’ life cycle to contribute to a more sustainable future.
A Brief History of Tyres
Charles Goodyear, an American self-taught chemist and manufacturing engineer, invents vulcanised rubber. Vulcanisation is a process of transforming rubber with sulfur to make it a firm pliable material, ideal to make tyres.
Robert William Thomson, a Scottish railroad engineer, manufactured and obtained the patent for the “aerial wheel”: a tube made up of “a number of folds of canvas, saturated and covered on both sides with rubber or gutta-percha”, then vulcanised and covered with leather.
The Irish 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.
These tyres – an inner tube with compressed air and an outer casing – are known as bias-ply tyres.
Frank Saiberling invented grooved tyres with improved road traction.
Philip Strauss invented the first practical tyre.
Steel-belted radial tyres appeared in Europe. Ply cords radiate out from the centre of the tyre. In addition, the crown is made from layers that form a belt.
First use of silica technology in tyre tread to cut rolling resistance while maintaining traction and wear.
Winter tyres become increasingly mandatory in the EU, for example since 2018 in Sweden and 2019 in France.
The European tyre label with information about fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise is introduced.
Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) for new cars in the EU becomes mandatory.