FULLERTON, Calif.—Yokohama Tire Corp. has made improvements to its orange oil-based Advan ENV-R1 racing tire, unveiling a new model with a 5-percent increase in renewable materials.
The Advan ENV-R2 tire replaces the Advan ENV-R1 model, introduced last year as the world's first environmentally friendly tire used in a racing series, said Mark Chung, Yokohama director of corporate strategy and planning.
The ENV-R1, which contained 15-percent less petroleum-based material than a typical racing slick, debuted as the spec tire for the Patron GT3 Challenge by Yokohama series and the American LeMans Series' Challenge Class.
The company earlier this year extended its sponsorship of the Patron G3 series through 2012.
The ENV-R2, however, contains 5-percent more natural rubber and more orange oil—which is derived from orange peels—than its predecessor, further reducing the amount of petroleum used. The grip level of the new tire is much greater than the ENV-R1, and durability for the tire has been enhanced as well, Chung said.
“We are constantly tinkering with the composition of this tire to improve both its performance on the track and the utilization ratio of natural, renewable materials,” he said.
Reaction to the ENV-1 model last year was phenomenal, Chung said. “It was apparent that the public was so hungry to learn about technologies that shatter the common-held belief that eco-friendly products must compromise on performance attributes.”
Drivers racing on the company's ENV-1 and ENV-2 tires have told Yokohama that the grip level, durability and predictability are even better than a conventional, 100-percent synthetic tire, Chung said.
The tires also have performed well in the ALMS' series longer endurance races' performance, often being double-stinted in those competitions, he said.
Most importantly, “the racers are just happy that they can go real fast,” he said.
In addition to the cut in petroleum-based materials, Yokohama also has removed aromatic oils from production and only utilizes lead-free weights to balance mounted tires.
The Fullerton-based company also is trying to push the envelope constantly regarding eco-racing, Chung said. For example, it's entering an all-electric-powered racing buggy—carried on hand-grooved ENV-R2 tires—at the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb June 27.
“We are constantly expanding our expertise by challenging conventional paradigms with regard to race tire development and production,” he said. “This is just the start for us.”
The orange-oil technology developed by Yokohama's Motorsports division is part of the company's overall global environmental strategy. In addition to its race tires, the tire maker uses the orange-oil/natural rubber combination—called Super Nano-Power Rubber—in its dB Super E-spec tire, a passenger tire that was unveiled last summer.
The db Super E-Spec is lighter than comparable road models and conserves gasoline by reducing rolling resistance by up to 20 percent, the firm said.
Yokohama—as in many of its products—is working on a new and improved version of the tire, Chung said.
The company also has its own product line of eco-friendly commercial tires under the Zenvironment brand name.
Earlier this year, the firm launched its 101ZL long-haul steer tire, joining the 103ZR, 501ZA and 703ZL truck tires in the Zenvironment lineup.
Each of the tires have longer first tread life, longer casing life and low rolling resistance, resulting in reduced material consumption and pollution, Yokohama said.
Two of the Zenvironment steer tires, plus five other Yokohama products, are recognized as SmartWay low rolling resistance tires by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Yokohama carries its eco-friendly initiatives into the production processes themselves.
For example, Tokyo-based parent Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd.'s eight tire-making facilities in Japan have “zero emissions” of waste, and the company's goal is to expand that result to all its plants globally.
Its sites in the U.S. and worldwide are ISO 14001-certified, the international standard for environmental management systems holding organizations to stringent environmental principles and audits, the firm said.