Forward-thinking performance: How Goodyear provides all-season grip with sustainability
What do A-class rolling resistance, innovative compound technology, winter lab and tire simulator have in common? The answer is: sustainability in Goodyear Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 all-season tire.
Grip on snow and ice vs rolling resistance
Is it possible to create an all-season tire rated for providing grip on snow and ice while maintaining excellent rolling resistance? Typically, these two factors are at odds with each other but, by using the latest technology drawn from Goodyear’s extensive research and experience, such a feat was possible in Vector 4Seasons Gen-3.
Therefore, Goodyear became the first tire manufacturer to introduce an all-season tire with both the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) label and class A rolling resistance for an original equipment application. Both ratings are recognised across Europe as indicators of a tire’s performance and reliability in each area. The 3PMSF symbol guarantees that a tire meets rigorous testing standards to be reliable and safe on snow, and is typically reserved for winter tires. As an all-season tire, Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 not only has to perform in wintery conditions but in the summer, too, where rolling resistance plays a more prominent role in a drivers’ demands.
That’s where the importance of the class A rolling resistance rating comes in. The EU tire label includes five classes for fuel efficiency, measuring rolling resistance from A to E. Between classes, fuel consumption increases by approximately 0.1 litre for every 100 km. With a class A rating, drivers know that Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 is amongst the most fuel efficient tires on the market today, saving money at the fuel station and decreasing their environmental footprint.1
How it’s made
To achieve such a first in the tire industry, Goodyear’s top R&D experts had a challenge ahead of them. At the Goodyear Innovation Centre Luxembourg (GIC*L), the company’s R&D experts frequently draw on data and experience from a wide range of arenas, whether that’s from winning races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans or inspiring confidence in off-road truck applications. As a result, they were able to develop an innovative tire compound for Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 that met all the demands.
“On Vector 4Seasons Gen-3, it was crucial to have a well-balanced tire that can perform whether it’s in dry braking or traction on snow,” explains Claude Jacoby, an R&D associate in the compound technology team at GIC*L. An example of the technology used to achieve this is the study into glass transition (Tg) in polymers. Claude and his team knew that low Tg polymers help achieve low tread wear and cold-weather performance, so they matched this with a high silica content to increase Vector 4Seasons Gen-3’s wet weather capabilities.
Fake snow, real research
Sustainability doesn’t just come from the performance and impact of the end product, however. It is a topic at the forefront of Goodyear’s approach to the development process, too. The ‘winter lab’ at GIC*L allows for accurate and reproducible testing that isn’t subject to real-world weather conditions. Whereas previously the testing stage of product development would require travel and trips to sub-zero locations, more and more of this can be simulated in-house, not only decreasing the footprint but increasing accuracy and reproducibility.
Frank Schmitz, the chief engineer in applied physical metrology at GIC*L, is responsible for the physical laboratories used to test parts of a new tire. An example he gives into the complexity of testing tires is how “the demands of the compounds in the sidewall, which doesn’t have contact with the road surface, and the tread, which does, are very different.”
Having an in-house facility that is able to recreate specific weather conditions and create fake snow makes this process considerably easier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly. “Having a cold laboratory in-house is very important, because we have complete control over the conditions,” Schmitz adds. “This independence, this flexibility, is crucial for allowing us to test and reproduce conditions as much as necessary.”
Advanced technologies at the service of sustainability
Vector 4Seasons Gen-3 doesn’t only need to perform on snow and ice, however. A wide range of driving conditions are now provided by the advanced driving simulator. An industry leader in virtual product development, Goodyear has expanded into vehicle simulation. This includes the installation of both compact and fully dynamic driving simulators, a first in the industry, providing a level of simulation sophistication to allow Goodyear to drive breakthroughs in future tire creation, leading to an enhanced customer and driver experience.
Virtual simulation efforts will help lead to fewer physical testing iterations and provide a more sustainable testing future. By 2024, Goodyear is seeking to reduce its physical testing iterations to one per SKU, a dramatic reduction from current levels.
The automotive industry trend toward a virtual development cycle provides an opportunity for tire development, and this new simulation avenue allows Goodyear to work more collaboratively with automobile manufacturers on original equipment fitments. These driving simulators are being used for the virtual development and tuning of a tire’s dynamic performance, aided by the ability to simulate a range of driving conditions.
Sustainability Bold Goals
Goodyear’s efforts towards a sustainable future are an essential part of the company’s ethos, with goals to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and use fully renewable energy in all its facilities by 2040. Last year, Goodyear developed a demonstration tire made up of 70% renewable materials as part of a target to produce a 100% sustainable materials tire by the end of the decade.
Finding innovative ways to maintain a low rolling resistance, thus decreasing fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, while giving drivers the level of snow and ice grip they’d normally expect in a winter tire, was the brief for Goodyear’s latest all-season tire, Vector 4Seasons Gen-3. This type of innovation and focus on sustainability, however, is simply one of hundreds of examples of Goodyear’s forward-thinking approach to developing tires for a sustainable future.
1 For more information on the EU tire label, click here: https://www.goodyear.eu/en_gb/consumer/learn/eu-tire-label-explained.html