TOKYO (Oct. 3, 2011)—Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. has developed an airless concept tire that relies on mechanical instead of pneumatic support and recently showed it at a “Good Design Expo” in Japan.
The concept tire, dubbed “Youmyaku” under Yokohama's “Nature Design” series of concept tires, is reminiscent of Michelin's Airless/Tweel concept—in which the tread area of the tire is linked to the bead area by a series of mechanical ribs—except the Yokohama concept is a much shallower version, similar to a low-profile tire, mounted on what appears to be a conventional rim.
This design means the tread is supported entirely by the mechanical ribs, whereas the Michelin design puts the tread on a rigid hoop that in turn is connected to the center hub by elastomeric polyurethane ribs.
The Yokohama design also takes the previous concept further by allowing the tread pattern to penetrate through the tread rubber, permitting water to evacuate not only in the plane of the road, but radially upwards toward the center of the wheel. No further details were available. Its size is given as 225/40R18.