The South Korean manufacturer, Hankook, has been developing a non-pneumatic tire in recent years with the hope of building a better car tire and limiting costly and oftentimes painful auto accidents. Their current fifth-generation tire model which does not require air pressure is called the “iFlex.”
Wired just published an article about these tires and summed up Hankook's new tire concept:
Now, Hankook has completed initial testing on its fifth-generation airless tire, dubbed the iFlex. The tires do not require any air pressure, instead relying on a new type of eco-friendly material (Hancook demurs when asked for details). Geometric shapes built into the material provide the bounce and springiness normally provided by air pressure. But, unlike the previous iFlex, this version’s designed to mount onto a traditional rim, making it compatible with current vehicles.
According to Wired, the iFlex is also in late stage testing and has been able to perform on normal rims at up to 80 mph while roughly matching the performance of traditional inflatable car tired.
Once the technology for non-pneumatic tires is perfected it may prove as a much safer alternative to conventional car tires. While testing is not completed yet, we can anticipate that these new breeds of tires will be significantly less susceptible to blow-outs, flat tires, or other significant tire damage that might occur while driving on the roadway.
Large numbers of auto accidents could be prevented by reducing or eliminating roadway blow-outs and flat tires.
Even more, this could be a costs saver to Michigan drivers and drivers across the rest of the world. Conceivably, these new types of tires would require less maintenance and may even last longer than the traditional tire once perfected.
Market integration would not be much of a challenge to non-pneumatic tires because Hankook’s version is already compatible with standard car rims so they should be easily adapted to most if not all standard cars.