GENEVA—The range of Goodyear's research and development efforts on display at the Geneva International Motor Show run from the practical—optimized electric-vehicle tires and tire-vehicle connectivity—to the curious—turning the tire/wheel unit into a moss-covered carbon-dioxide sink.
On the practical side, Goodyear is showing a prototype of its EfficientGrip Performance design with Electric Drive Technology, the company's answer to tire wear problems related to the instant torque generated by electric motors and the additional vehicle weight from battery packs.
Goodyear said its testing reveals that traditional tires can wear out up to 30 percent faster on electric vehicles due to these factors.
"The combination of increasing regulations to reduce emissions, the desire to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and rapid gains in battery technology is creating an ideal environment for electric vehicles," said Chris Delaney, president of Goodyear Europe, Middle East and Africa.
"We are working with auto makers to introduce our Electric Drive Technology next year designed to address the unique performance requirements of this growing vehicle segment."
In addition to tire durability requirements, Goodyear said, auto makers are pressing for reduced rolling resistance on electric vehicles to help increasing range of EVs. This is especially key considering the underdeveloped electric recharging infrastructure in most countries.
The tire itself features a tread design with thinner sipes, which allow for a larger rubber contact patch on the road surface than traditional radial grooves. A tire with a larger contact patch can cope more effectively with high levels of torque while maintaining high performance in wet conditions, Goodyear said.
The tread design also prevents sound waves from entering its grooves, reducing interior and exterior tire noise.
The tire cavity shape has been optimized to support the additional vehicle weight from batteries while maintaining an optimal tread footprint for high performance. The tire's tread compound has been tuned for ultra-low rolling resistance, and the sidewall has been designed to reduce aerodynamic drag for reduced energy consumption.
On the topic of tire-vehicle connectivity, Goodyear showcased the latest advances on its intelligent tire prototype.
"As shared mobility continues to grow in popularity, we are seeing applications where kilometers driven per vehicle will increase substantially in the years ahead," Delaney said. "For shared fleet operators, proactively managing tire service issues is critical to both the customer experience and the business model."
Goodyear's intelligent tire prototype allows for continuous connectivity and real-time data sharing, enabling optimal tire usage for safer and more cost-efficient mobility and maximized uptime.
The sensors in the tire, together with the vehicle and third-party information, provide real-time data to Goodyear's proprietary algorithms, which allow information on tire ID and status—including wear, temperature and pressure—to be updated and shared with fleet operators continuously.
"Tire performance and wear information provide a real-time signal for when a tire needs service to extend its life, fuel economy and performance attributes," Delaney continued. "This kind of proactive maintenance allows fleet operators to precisely identify and resolve tire-related and potential service issues before they happen."
The final concept on display is the "Oxygene," a non-pneumatic tire/wheel hybrid design that incorporates moss growing in the structure's open sidewall design.
The virtual concept's open structure and "smart" tread design absorb and circulate moisture from the road surface, allowing photosynthesis to occur and release oxygen.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Goodyear said, more than 80 percent of people who live in air pollution-measured urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO limits.
"With more than two-thirds of the world population expected to live in cities by 2050, the demands on transport networks in urban environments will increase substantially," Delaney said.
"Smarter, greener infrastructure and transport will be crucial in addressing the most pressing challenges of urban mobility and development."
Inspired by the principles of the circular economy, with emphasis on reducing material waste, emissions and energy loss, Goodyear's Oxygene concept is designed to integrate seamlessly into future cityscapes, featuring several performance solutions:
The Oxygene's moss-dependent photosynthesis model would generate nearly 3,000 tons of oxygen and absorb more than 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year, based on its being used on roughly 2.5 million vehicles, Goodyear said.
The Oxygene's lightweight, shock-absorbing construction would be 3D-printed with rubber powder from recycled tires, Goodyear said, and the tire theoretically could harvest the energy generated during photosynthesis to power its embedded electronics, such as onboard sensors, an artificial intelligence processing unit and a light strip in the sidewall.
Goodyear said the Oxygene is designed to use a visible light communications system (LiFi) for high-capacity mobile connectivity at the speed of light. LiFi would enable the tire to connect to the Internet of Things, allowing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) data exchange.