Airless tires are one of those things that crop up every few years, but they never seem to stick around long enough to become commonplace. Already, certain construction vehicles use flat-proof rubber, and tire manufacturers have been playing with airless systems for some time. For example, Hankook has the iFlex, its fifth attempt at non-pneumatic tires, and Goodyear has actually begun selling airless donuts on commercial lawnmowers. Michelin even has a 3D-printed round that it claims will last the lifetime of a vehicle.
Unfortunately, nobody seems able to come up with a solution that works at higher speeds. While they’re great at taking impacts, the existing designs aren’t so good at coping with high levels of heat. But it’s not for a lack of trying — there may even be a breakthrough just around the bend, especially since everyone seems so interested. Rolling resistance and weight are two of the electric car’s worst enemies. If an automaker could mitigate those issues effectively, that would be another leg up on the competition.
It’s an issue weighing heavy on the top minds at Toyota at the moment. The company’s recent concept EV, the Fine-Comfort Ride, came equipped with a set of experimental airless tires from Sumitomo Rubber Industries, boringly named the Smart Tyre Concept-A. Toyota’s theory is that non-pneumatic tires, consisting of a solid band of rubber encircling lightweight alloys, could eventually compensate for the weight of wheel-mounted electric motors.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Frank Sounds like they dont want to debut it at the same time as the new Land Cruiser, which is probably smart. The new 'runner is ready to go I am told, so there's a reason for this delay.
- IH_Fever My cousin bought a new 4runner 2 weeks ago. It is not much different than my mom's 2010. If it ain't broke, why fix it has always been toyota's motto. What's funny is even the salesman told my cousin "get the current one, when the engine changes there will probably be some issues with the first ones." Gotta be the most honest guy to ever sell a car.
- Ajla They should just keep making this version forever. The next Tacoma and Land Cruiser have the new tech stuff covered.
- CoastieLenn I still don't completely understand why Toyota left the 4.0 in the 4R when the Taco on which it's based got the arguably more efficient and stout 3.5.
- FreedMike Same guys who were charging $15,000 over sticker day in, day out for the last two years? Cry me a river, fellas.