Boom in SUV popularity brings technology opportunities for Goodyear
- In Europe, three of the top ten best selling cars are now SUVs
- Larger and more versatile SUVs require specific tire technology
- Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV tops leading magazine test
Across Europe, the growth of the SUV and Crossover sector has been one of the car industry success stories. The term Sports Utility Vehicle neatly explains the broad versatility of these cars. The rugged look, elevated driving position and the mix of hatchback practicality with all-terrain ability has made SUVs a hit with drivers and families alike.
Many SUV owners across Europe choose these increasingly popular cars as part of their active lifestyle, allowing them to enjoy activities outdoors with confidence that their car can handle a wide range of conditions and environments. As Europe enters Spring and the prospect of hobbies and sports resuming post-lockdown, drivers will be beginning to consider their leisure plans. From muddy fields to wet grass and gravel paths, a countryside lifestyle requires a car that can tackle varied terrains, and consumers who tow caravans or horseboxes off-road demand more traction still.
For Goodyear, the growth in SUVs has brought new opportunities to showcase tire technology, as Thomas Gesenhoff, Technical Project Manager, explains: “Tires such as our Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV are specially designed for these vehicles. We take a different design approach to conventional car tire development. SUV tires need to be more robust and versatile but still deliver the dynamic feel and performance demanded by drivers moving from saloons and hatchbacks.
“The stronger sidewall and belt material in the construction not only helps longevity, but it also provides precise steering and dynamics. This is important in a vehicle that has a higher center of gravity than a regular car. To help cope with the additional weight of an SUV, tires are typically larger giving a greater air volume. To provide all-terrain versatility, the increased size of an SUV tire provides more gripping edges. This also gives a thicker layer of more robust lower rubber, which combined with a ply cover that’s twice as strong as the car tire gives SUV drivers the durability they demand”
The all-purpose versatility of SUVs and Crossovers means owners expect them to cover everything from business to family and leisure duties. This results in consumers demanding higher mileage tires and Thomas explains how Goodyear met these challenges: “The EfficientGrip 2 SUV has a 25% improvement in mileage1 versus its predecessor, thanks to Goodyear’s mileage plus technology, which offers high tread elasticity and flexibility, resulting in less fractures from rough road conditions over a wide range of temperatures.”
Goodyear’s focus on developing distinct designs and technologies for SUV tires has been validated by a resounding win in a recent comparison of ten SUV tires. Auto Bild allrad magazine declared the Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV as top tire after a test of performance on wet and dry roads as well as the type of off-road surfaces such as sand, gravel, grass and mud that the typical SUV driver will encounter.
The Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV was the only tire in the Auto Bild allrad test2 to score in the top band in each of the magazine's fifteen test categories. The testers particularly focused on EfficientGrip 2 SUV’s outstanding wet braking performance. This comes from a high number of longer gripping edges combined with lower compound stiffness, which improves grip on wet surfaces. The larger ribs at the center of the tread mean a greater contact area for short dry braking distances, too.
The off-road performance is particularly important for people who purchase SUVs for their towing ability. Whilst many SUV drivers won’t be wanting the hardcore off-road performance of a traditional 4x4, they do require traction when towing caravans or horseboxes on wet grass or gravel. That’s where the versatility of a bespoke SUV tire such as the EfficientGrip 2 SUV helps.
Goodyear’s EfficientGrip 2 SUV is part of a growing range including the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV for high-performance vehicles such as the Porsche Macan and Range Rover Sport, and the Eagle F1 Asymmetric SUV AT providing all-terrain and all-season ultra-high performance. With many electric vehicles adopting a higher SUV-style design, this is an important development area for Goodyear.
“Looking to the future, the SUV share of the overall car market will grow as manufacturers launch more new models in each size segment. For SUV drivers, it is important to ensure the dynamic versatility of the vehicle is enhanced by the capability of the tires. That’s why we are putting so much focus on the specific tire needs of SUVs and Crossovers,” concludes Gesenhoff.
1 Internal estimates. Compared to predecessor EfficientGrip SUV
2 Test conducted by Auto Bild allrad, tire size 215/60R17, Test car: Jeep Renegade, and published on 4/3/2021. The Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV 96V was declared overall winner in a test including the following products: Michelin Primacy 4 96V, Bridgestone Turanza T005 96V, Continental PremiumContact 6 96V, Nokian Wetproof SUV 100V, Falken ZIEX ZE310 EcoRun 96V, Maxxis Premitra 5 HP5 96H, BF Goodrich Advantage SUV 96V, Toyo Proxes Comfort 100V and Imperial EcoSport SUV 100V.
Goodyear is one of the world's largest tire companies. It employs about 74,000 people and manufactures its products in 57 facilities in 23 countries around the world. Its two Innovation Centers in Akron, Ohio, and Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, strive to develop state-of-the-art products and services that set the technology and performance standard for the industry. For more information about Goodyear and its products, go to www.goodyear.com/corporate.