For the past several years Bridgestone has been working on a tire that doesn’t need air and therefore will not puncture, all but eliminating the need to change it as all too often more conventional tires need to.
One of the most aggravating things about driving a car is having to change a tire. Invariably, or so it seems, a tire will fail on a dark, lonely road or else on a freeway with cars zooming past at something that seems to be Warp 10 when one is on the shoulder. Sometimes the weather is not all that great. Certainly one is not dressed for the dirty, sweaty task of jacking up a car and swapping out a tire.
That would make an airless tire that can be used on a standard family car the greatest innovation since white walls. Thus far Bridgestone is not there yet. After developing an airless tire that could be used on a golf cart, it has recently rolled out, so to speak, a version that can be used on an all terrain vehicle. The latest version was showed off at the 43 Tokyo Motor Show 2013.
The way the airless tire is built is that the tread is supported by curved thermoplastic resin spokes rather than the donut filled with air as are conventional tires. The company claims that because of the low rolling resistance, the airless tires make the vehicles that use them more efficient. As an added bonus, the materials that the tires are made of are completely recyclable.
The sticking point right now is how much weight the airless tires can bear. The first generation was just enough to handle a golf cart and a single rider. The second generation can handle an ATV and a passenger. An airless tire that can bear a family car and its passengers will have to be a quantum leap ahead of the current version.