The tyre is the only part of the car that touches the road. Tyres must strike a balance between traction, comfort, durability, energy efficiency and overall cost. As a result of these competing needs, tyres are more complex to design and build than you might think.
Take, for instance, a smart phone. It seems far more complex than a tyre. But actually, throughout development a similar amount of research and technology goes into the tyre.
We study peoples' tyre usage and driving habits to make sure that our tyres meet everyone's needs.
Over 200 ingredients go into a tyre. They play vital roles in safety, fuel efficiency, performance and eco-friendliness.
These components fall into five groups:
We create many different designs and use simulations to test and select the best tyre concepts to be developed.
We expertly build each tyre through both hand-made and machined processes. When necessary, we invent our own machines to reach our goals.
Quality control is not only an end step. We measure quality throughout the process.
We do over 1 billion miles worth of tyre testing per year – the equivalent of driving around the planet 40 times.
A tyre’s tread design – the grooves and patterns in the rubber on the top surface of the tyre – is crucial to its performance. The tread design plays an essential role in your tyre’s grip in different types of driving conditions and can impact both your safety and your driving pleasure.
To understand the role of the tyre tread on wet roads, it's useful to think of a water pump. The more channels in your tyre's tread, the better it pumps water away from between the tyre and the road. Remarkably, it can displace water in just a few milliseconds. A 195/65 R 15 tyre, for instance, can displace almost 15 litres of water per second.
Design elements that impact wet grip :
One of the main factors contributing to precise steering control and reactivity is the stiffness of the tread design.
Design elements that impact dry grip:
A layer of airtight synthetic rubber (this is the modern equivalent of the inner tube).
The layer above the inner liner, consisting of thin textile fibre cords (or cables) bonded into the rubber. These cables largely determine the strength of the tyre and help it to resist pressure. Standard tyres contain about 1,400 cords, each one of which can resist a force of 15 kg.
This is where the rubber tyre grips the metal rim. The power from the engine and braking effort is transmitted from the rim of the tyre to the contact area with the road's surface.
They clamp firmly against the tyre’s rim to ensure an airtight fit and keep the tyre properly seated on the rim. Each wire can take a load of up to 1,800 kg without risk of breaking. There are eight of them on your car – two per tyre. That’s a massive 14,400 kg of resistance strength. An average car weighs about 1,500 kg.
It protects the side of the tyre from impact with curbs and the road. Important details about the tyre are written on the sidewall, such as tyre width and speed rating.
It largely determines the strength of the tyre. It's made up of very fine, resistant steel cords bonded into the rubber. This means that the tyre can resist the strains of turning, and doesn't expand due to the rotation of the tyre. It's also flexible enough to absorb deformations caused by bumps, potholes and other obstacles in the road.
This important safety layer reduces friction heating and helps to maintain the shape of the tyre when driving fast. To prevent centrifugal stretching of the tyre, reinforced nylon based cords are bedded in a layer of rubber and laid around the circumference of the tyre.
They provide the rigid base for the tread.
It provides traction and turning grip for the tyre, and is designed to resist wear, abrasion and heat.