Cooper Tire & Rubber has completed work under a US$1.5m government grant to develop technology aimed at increasing vehicle fuel efficiency. The grant, awarded by the US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, focused on the development of light vehicle tires that deliver a minimum 3% improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency while lowering average tire weight by at least 20%.
Cooper was successful in developing technologies that exceeded the project’s goals, delivering an average fuel efficiency improvement of 5.5% and a weight reduction ranging from 23% to 37% in concept tires.
Chuck Yurkovich, Cooper’s senior VP of global research and development, said, “Improving vehicle fuel efficiency was accomplished by developing a product with more than 30% lower rolling resistance. Reducing tire weight required us to make a product that is 5-6 lb lighter than the baseline 26 lb tire. All of this was accomplished without any trade-offs in performance or durability.
“Our approach was to develop a new energy efficient profile and design in combination with an ultra lightweight tire construction. The process utilized innovative materials not typically used in tires today. In all, we developed and evaluated six new technologies as part of the program’s first phase.
“We also evaluated the holistic impact of putting all of these technologies into a concept tire in the program’s second phase. Combining these advancements enabled us to reach and exceed the grant’s aggressive goals.”
As a result of the grant work, Cooper has already incorporated new tire modeling technology into its development process and is evaluating long wearing and fuel efficient tread compound technology for use in future tires for the replacement and original equipment markets. Other technologies are being further developed for potential commercial applications in the future.
For an interview with Chuck Yurkovich, see the upcoming issue of Tire Technology International.
May 5, 2015