alternative raw materials such as vegetable oil and works
intensively on analysing different rubber compositions
using potential new fillers, elastomers, polymers, etc., and
evaluating their impact on the tyre characteristics.
Volkswagen has also been busy. Group head Martin
Winterkorn introduced the ‘Think Blue’ strategy in 2010.
The aim is for VW to become the most profitable, fascin-
ating and sustainable automobile manufacturer in the
world by 2018. In doing so, the highest priority is on
reducing consumption and thereby cutting CO
To achieve this aim, VW sees the greatest opportunity
for leverage in reducing the rolling resistance of the
tyres. ‘At 42 per cent, the impact of rolling resistance
on consumption is even bigger than that of aerodynamics
(33 per cent),’ said Dr Thees Breyhan from Volkswagen
AG in his speech. Unlike Ford, VW very clearly formu-
lates the aim as a task for the tyre industry: reduce
rolling resistance by 19 (!) per cent by 2020 and do so
without compromising on comfort, performance, wear or
In many of the speeches at the event, it was clear that
these requirements cannot be met by working on the
tyre design alone. In reality, the contact area between
the tyre and the road on a car is not that much bigger
than the size of a hand.
The efforts of numerous research teams on both the
scientific side and the manufacturers’ side are nonetheless
concentrated on a better understanding of the interplay
between tyre design, tyre material and road surface,
with a particular focus on how the lateral and longitud-
inal acceleration forces impact on the tyre itself.
Such efforts are helped by ever improving measure-
ment methods and technology. As in many other areas,
development teams are relying ever more on a combin-
ation of empirical tests and simulation programs. Sys-
tems such as ‘Ftire’ and ‘CDTire’, presented by Prof.
Michael Gipser and Dr Manfred Bäcker, use empirically
established structure models, making it possible to
design a tyre under ‘simulated reality conditions’, so to
speak, at a very early stage of development. The ad-
vantage is obvious: influential factors such as isolated
structural stress, traction, temperature, etc. can be
modified and the effect on the tyre structure and tyre
performance can be simulated without having to carry
out costly and time-consuming modifications to test
The performance of a tyre must always be seen in the context of the condition of the road surface.
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