"Regulations that once would have been considered technology-neutral are now viewed as technology-limiting," Tracey Norberg, USTMA senior vice president and general counsel, told Rubber News. "… Governments should consider potential disparate impacts on new and existing tire technologies as they develop new regulations or update existing ones. They should focus their regulatory efforts on performance, rather than specific technologies and incorporate regulatory provisions that require periodic product benchmarking, evaluation and adjustment of requirements to reflect the performance of current tires in North America. This will ensure that the regulations do not become technology-limiting as technology advances."
Norberg is right. And that makes these next few years especially crucial for tire makers with emerging airless technology. The right regulations need to be in place in plenty of time for them to prove just how safe their nonpneumatic tires are.
Because that's what it all comes down to. Safety and reliability.
Goodyear, Bridgestone and Michelin all contend that nonpneumatic tires, by their very nature, provide safety benefits that pneumatic tires simply cannot. Airless tires don't puncture and because there is no air pressure to maintain, they are more suited to routinely provide an optimal footprint for performance and safety.
And as each are on the cusp of bringing their biggest airless tire ideas to the market, we have to be sure that—of all the hurdles they'll face in the process—regulations designed around and only for pneumatic tires isn't one of them.