Jan. 8, 2002 -- Goodyear's concept tire showing is massive
at the North American International Auto Show here. Literally.
The company's rim diameters at this show range from 17 to 22 inches;
tread section widths spread up to 315 mm, or more than a foot
wide. "These works of art are larger than life," according
to Bill Egan, chief engineer of advanced product technology, "or
at least, they seem to be. Bigger is better in Detroit."
Mighty F-350 Tonka concept truck, which sports six huge Goodyear
22-inch hand-carved tires. More than 4 feet of tread width keep
the truck rear planted firmly on the pavement.
LT315/60R22 tires "certainly look the part. Blocky, yet aesthetically
pleasing, tread elements and aggressive shoulder styling accentuate
the image portrayed by this Goliath-sized toy truck," Egan
Yet the mighty
Ford is a hybrid, of sorts. The F-350 prototype stores recaptured
braking energy hydraulically for significant fuel economy improvements.
On the Detroit
show floor, Goodyear's considerable presence is evident across
several automotive manufacturers. Egan said 19-inch run-flat concept
tires reflect the future, despite the history evident in a concept
Chevrolet Bel Air.
The Bel Air,
evocative of the wildly popular 1955, '56 and '57 Chevys, refuses
the retro label. "It possess a heritage of exciting designs
and performance, while its concept tires look to the future,"
50 run-flat tire programs underway worldwide, Goodyear hints that
run-flat tires will change the tire and automotive industries.
Egan said the federal Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability
and Documentation (TREAD) Act might drive run-flat tire development.
The act mandates
new safety standards for tires, including the installation of
pressure-monitoring systems by 2003. The systems are required
when run-flat tires are used.
The Bel Air
concept was designed from the same brand group that spawned the
Chevrolet SSR roadster pickup. General Motors selected Goodyear
to develop massive asymmetric performance tires for the innovative
SSR specialty vehicle that goes into production in late 2002.
developed concept tires -- featuring Chevrolet's bow-tie icon
in the tread pattern -- for the SSR concept vehicle shown here
at the 2000 show.
still are fine-tuning the super-wide Eagle RS-A performance tires
in P255/45R19 (front) and P295/40R20 (rear) to propel the V-8-powered
tire development is important, because it allows us to contribute
to automotive design trends that soon may be coming down the road.
Communication between the automaker and tiremaker is paramount
to keeping image and messages consistent through design,"
vehicles reflect the trend of large-diameter concept tires. "Larger
tires allow vehicle designers to make stylized wheels part of
the package. In addition, larger brakes can be engineered for
improved stopping capability," he said.
are a work of art. Sidewall design can remain "minimalist
to reflect the simple, chiseled lines of the Dodge M80 concept
vehicle. Yet they only slightly hide the beautiful, clean tread
design of the P265/50R20 concept tires," he said.
Razor and its 19- and 20-inch tires are another back-to-basics
design. Talk about clean design: the orange coupe doesn't even
offer a trunk lid.
In other cases,
stylized sidewalls may be equally as important as a rugged treadface,
particularly when fitted on Jeep concepts.
green-striped 21-inch concepts on the Jeep Willys2 reprisal of
last year's Willys concept. Or Goodyear's most durable off-road
tire -- the Wrangler MT/R LT245/75R16 -- fitted on the 2003 Jeep
Wrangler Rubicon, the ultimate factory off-roader shown here Monday.
sometimes, concept tires make an impact that stand out in a crowd,
Egan said. Ford's GT40 retro-rocket features P245/45R18 concept
tires (front) and P285/45R19 (rear) -- and an ultra-performance
version of its legendary GT40 racecar is powered by a 500- horsepower
supercharged V-8. The original GT40 finished in the top three
positions at the 1966 24 Hours at LeMans, and it remained a dominant
force for the decade.
tires on today's GT40, Egan said, are hard to miss. The gold-lettered
words "Goodyear Eagle" emblazon the sidewalls.