Nokian’s prototype tyre made a car drive 64 per cent farther


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Rolling resistance test: Prototype tyre manufactured by Nokian Tyres rolls 130 metres, eco tyre only 80 metres

The tyre of the future considerably saves fuel

Nokian’s new prototype tyre rolls 64 per cent farther than a good eco-oriented summer tyre. The Finnish tyre of the future makes 130 metres whereas the eco tyre already stops after only 80 metres, a rolling resistance test of the manufacturer now demonstrated with Finnish motor journalists present. „Our tyre of the future nearly reaches the best EU fuel efficiency class A and consumes considerably less than the best passenger car tyres of today, which are two classes worse and only get class C,” says Teppo Huovila, Vice President R&D with Nokian Tyres. “Nevertheless the prototype offers a normal level with all other features.”

The test was implemented by allowing a car to roll in neutral gear off a ramp in windless conditions. The distance the car rolled corresponds directly to the tyres’ rolling resistance. The farther the car rolls, the lower the rolling resistance. A low rolling resistance saves fuel. What today already can be achieved shows the Nokian Hakkapeliitta R being already available in the trade: It rolls 100 metres.

Eco tyre decreases fuel consumption by half a litre

In addition to safety features, tyre product development will, in the coming years, focus more and more on lowering the rolling resistance. “By choosing a summer tyre with a low rolling resistance like the ultra high speed tyre Nokian Z G2 or the Nokian H for compact cars, a consumer can decrease fuel consumption by as much as half a litre per 100 km,” says expert Huovila. “At the same time, the car’s CO2 emissions will also decrease. The two premium tyres are “very recommendable” according to the ADAC (German automobile association) test, both in the assessments “fuel consumption” and the safety relevant driving behaviour.” Regarding rolling resistance,  Nokian Z SUV, the “very recommendable” version for SUV, gets the top mark by the important German car magazine “Auto Bild allrad” in its latest test. The biggest car magazine in Europe, the German “Auto Bild” praises the Nokian H for its driving safety and its energy consumption being extremely low at the same time in its latest test: “Strengths: safe driving behaviour with stable latitudinal grip in the wet and in the dry, very low rolling resistance and quiet tyre noise. The German car magazine “Auto Zeitung” has awarded the Nokian V  with the judgement “very recommendable”, too.

Rolling resistance refers to the energy consumed in the deformation that takes place when the tyre comes into contact with the road. This deformation, and the amount of energy it requires, can be influenced with structural and material choices in tyre design.

In electric and hybrid cars, a low rolling resistance increases the car’s operating radius when running on electricity, which is an essential feature in these car categories.

“Tyre material development actively searches for new improving possibilities. Up and coming are, among others, the next generation silica compounds and steel belt structures. They emit less heat during the deformation of the tyre and consequently lower the tyre’s rolling resistance. In 2015, the best passenger car tyres will probably further decrease fuel consumption by 5 per cent compared to the best of today’s tyres without compromising on the current safety features,” Huovila says.

New grading system to make purchasing and comparisons easier

In addition to consumer habits, the development work of environmentally friendly tyres is boosted by the EU’s new quality grading system. By November 2012, every passenger car tyre sold in the EU must have a sticker that helps consumers decide what to purchase and to compare tyre brands; the sticker will announce the tyre’s fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise level.

In principle, the new grading system will function just like the one for home appliances. The grades are A, B, C, D, E, F and G. The green A grade is the highest and best, and the red G grade the lowest and weakest.

At the moment, the rolling resistance of the best passenger car tyres corresponds to grade C of the new grading system, but the majority of today’s tyres belong to the G, F and E grades. In practice, moving from one grade to the next better means that the fuel consumption of an average car decreases by approximately 2 to 3 per cent.

“The product development and manufacture of such a tyre are very challenging processes. Very precise structures, smaller tolerances and the newest special materials are required. All features must be on a good level in the tyre; as a responsible manufacturer, we can never focus on improving just one feature at the expense of others,” Huovila reminds us.

Another project requiring top-notch product development expertise was the special tyres tailored for the Eva electric car, presented by Valmet Automotive at the Geneva Motor Show. The special feature in the Nokian 185/50 R 17 special tyres is their very low rolling resistance, which increases the operating radius of an electric car.

Results of the rolling test:
Nokian prototype tyre129 metres
Eco-oriented summer tyre 78.9 metres
Nokian Hakkapeliitta R friction tyre 99.5 metres