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The 83rd edition of the Swiss motor show was confirmed as the stage preferred by the tyre industry, with personalized products for the many supercars on display and prototypes that herald the evolution in eco-vehicles

Francesco Lojola

IN A SPIRALLING EUROPEAN MARKET the Geneva Motor Show was an island of happiness: not just detached from context, but the magnified expression of a reality that appeared good and possible. The glamorous showcase’s figures were the same as last year’s - 260 exhibitors in 110,000 square metres hosting 101 world and 32 premieres, 700,000 visitors, 40% from abroad and, above all, all the car manufacturers that closed ranks against a crisis that is to be exorcised at all costs.  On the one hand leveraging on the considerable number of new supercars, enough to fill a lifetime of dreams, and on the other, an increasingly large array of cars with a “green” heart: over a tenth of the 900 vehicles on show boasted CO2 emissions of less than 100 g/km. Vehicles that have been metabolized by the catalogues of each brand such that the Pavilion Vert,  the green area of the Geneva show, is no longer needed.  The tyres on the launch pad, the potential driving force behind a continental car segment that last year showed a two-figure downturn (from 300 million items in 2001 to 261, according to accredited estimates), are the mirrors in which cars are immediately reflected.

The label calls, the market responds
So, on the one hand we have the accent on high-end and prestige premium products, the most profitable and, perhaps, the only ones with any realistic prospects of growth in the current European economy; on the other, on lines that express the nouvelle vague of energy efficiency for emissions and reduced consumption  and which accompany, among models with double As on the label and new-generation prototypes, the development of electric vehicles and those with the upcoming alternative fuels. The brands that were present included  Apollo Vredestein, Bridgestone and Continental, Goodyear Dunlop, Pirelli and Yokohama.
Embodying the new developments on the “green” tyre front that emerged at this 83rd edition of the Geneva Show, were, first and foremost, the prototypes, some of which are now just a step away from making their debut on the roads.  This is the case of the Large & Narrow Concept (LNC) Bridgestone has dedicated to the new BMW i3 electric car that we should be seeing in circulation by the end of the year: a retro tyre with a ‘20s and ‘30s shape, bigger diameter, narrower section width  and higher internal pressure compared to current tyres that will limit deformation on contact with the ground and give lower rolling resistance thanks to the special structure and materials: in the 155/55R19 size it is about one third less than a similar tyre in the classic 175/65R15 size. And then its narrower and longer footprint also improves wet grip.

Eco-prototypes with fins
Focusing particularly on aerodynamics is Yokohama’s Fin tyre prototype. Subject to further developments, it targets electric vehicles and underwent simulations in wind tunnels.  The outer shoulder of the tyre has the typical indents (a bit like those in a golf ball, as in BluEarth) and on the wheel arch side there is a series of fine fins at regular intervals that are almost like raised scars running round the sidewall: the former are for reducing aerodynamic resistance, the latter for generating the vortex of air that pushes the vehicle forward. In addition, not only Yokohama with its Aero-Y EV concept but also Goodyear and the StreetScooter city car willingly put themselves to the test for the joint design of electric cars that get the best out of their tyres. Returning to Bridgestone, which set up a room for showing 3D films in an original presentation of its tyres’ characteristics, in pride of place on its stand was the prototype of a tyre made only with eco-sustainable materials; and, nearby, the new top product in the Ecopia family, Ep001S, which is already on the market in the 195/65R15 91H size.

Made-to-measure prestige tyres
Following up on the self-certified prototypes with the best rating presented at Essen last June, Goodyear Dunlop is counting on the new Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance and the very recent Dunlop Sport BluResponse, both premium tyres for the touring segment and with numerous sizes with BA rating (for rolling resistance and wet grip). Once again it pointed the spotlight on Air Maintenance Technology that was developed by an Italian engineer for keeping pressures at the correct level and is now close to being launched. The other main focus at the show was the UHP premium segment with prestige products and personalization represented primarily by Pirelli and Vredestein.
Ad hoc markings on sidewalls for the new high-end series from both brands, and collaborations with manufacturers and preparers of super sporty, top-level vehicles. Pirelli continues the combined development of the PZero and PZero Corsa which are fitted on the marvellous trio of the new LaFerrari, McLaren P1 and Lamborghini Veneno which, by the way, have a total value of €5.5 million. The car manufacturer’s symbol is shown on the sidewalls of the respective factory mounted tyres.  Vredestein collaborates with preparers Hamann and Carlsson (not to mention Gemballa, Hre and Lumma Design) by supplying tyres with their respective logos impressed in the rubber.

A crowded premium segment
New developments by the Indo-Dutch brand include the UHP Ultrac Vorti R, where the additional “R”  stands for a new tread compound conceived to contain thermal stress, and the adoption of new carbon inserts on the sidewalls.
Part of the same segment is the new high-end tyre from Yokohama, the Advan Sport V105 which is already factory mounted on various Mercedes-Benz models. It is joined by the absolutely new Advan Neova Ad08R for sport coupes and peppier saloons. The squad of other new products ranges from the Apollo Alnac 4G, a tyre in the standard segment for mid-size and compact vehicles, to the trio of new tyres from Continental, which seemed to have chosen understatement at Geneva.
The German company, which relies on the ContiSafetyExperience braking simulator to test the behaviour of tyres with different wet ratings and at different speeds, exhibited the new ContiCrossContact Lx 2 for SUVs and 4WDs and the ContiVanContact 100 and  200, the new generation duo of light truck tyres. Completing the showcase were Pirelli, Bridgestone and Dunlop winter tyres with, respectively, the debuts of Sottozero 3, Blizzak Lm80 Evo, the upgraded version of the Lm80 already on the SUV tyre market, and Winter Response 2 for city cars and compacts. The following are the brand by brand details of the main new summer tyres presented at the Show.

Aimed at compact and mid-size vehicles with rims from 14” to 17”, the new asymmetric Alnac 4G is the second new-generation product from Apollo of India and follows the UHP Aspire 4G launched in 2012.  On the European label, all 29 sizes (with H and V speed ratings) have CB ratings for rolling resistance and wet grip. According to the company, the tread compound has a high silica content and the geometry of spaces in a tread featuring four longitudinal ribs increases wet performance and control if aquaplaning occurs.

The first tyre to boast a double A in Europe and a triple A in Japan, Ecopia Ep001S is the product at the top of the homonymous family.  Already on sale in the 195/65R15 size and from June also in the 205/55R16 size, it is accredited by Bridgestone with 16% less rolling resistance than the Ecopia Ep150 and wet braking that will reduce stopping distances by 11% while maintaining the same characteristics of wet and dry grip.

Meant for SUVs and 4x4s, the new ContiCrossContact Lx 2 offers driving comfort on roads and consistency on gentle off-road tracks thanks to a robust construction that gives precise handling. For the German company, it is an improvement on the previous model not only because of less rolling resistance and better braking (8% and 6%, respectively), but also mileage has been increased by 25%. Available in 30 sizes for 15” to 18” rims, it targets vehicles like the Evoque, Qashqai and Touareg.

A summer tyre in the touring segment, the new Sport BluResponse comes in 52 sizes for rims from 14” to 17”,  most of which have BA ratings for rolling resistance and wet grip on the European label. The specifications accredit it with longer life, due mainly to more even internal pressure distribution when rolling and rolling resistance 30% lower than its predecessor, thanks to low heat dispersion, shape and a lighter structure. Noise has also been reduced by new tread geometries.

Available in 90 sizes from 15” to 18” (23 of which are already on the market), most of the new EfficientGrip Performance tyres have self-certified BA ratings for rolling resistance and wet grip. Targeting mid-size and prestige saloons, from now on it will be Goodyear’s main product for segment volume.  Compared to the previous EfficientGrip, it is accredited with greater energy efficiency thanks to rolling resistance of less than 18%. Its debut completes  a range that includes the EfficientGrip Compact for smaller sizes and the EfficientGrip SUV.

One of the latest additions to the PZero family is the PZero Corsa Asymmetric developed in collaboration with McLaren for the super sporty P1 (a 903 HP hybrid with speed limitation of 350 km/h). It makes use of F1 technologies to give a wider footprint with different structures for the front and rear that feature special asymmetries on the bead to support lateral accelerations, and compounds that come up to temperature more quickly and cope better with stresses; the sizes are 245/35ZR19 in the front and 315/30ZR20 in the rear. Practically the same for LaFerrari (949 HP),  with PZero Corsa 265/30ZR19 on the front and 345/30ZR20 on the rear, and for Lamborghini Veneno with red-rimmed PZero in sizes 255/30ZR20 and 355/25ZR21.

Compared to the Ultrac Vorti that made its debut in 2012, the new UHP asymmetric Ultrac Vorti R drives sporty performance even further for cars like the Porsche 911, Audi R8 and Lamborghini Gallardo. With Y speed rating, the product has a new compound with resins that activate at different temperatures and were designed to contain heat stress and lengthen the life of the tyre. A special characteristic is the carbon accents on the sidewalls that can be personalized with the car manufacturer’s logo;  already available in 5 sizes for the front and the back for 19” to 21” rims.

The Advan Neova Ad08R sporty road tyre has reached the market almost three years after its predecessor, this time with an “R” added to its name as a further development of the “fast&fun” area. In other words, a tyre aimed at tuning and the saloons and sports cars of track day enthusiasts.  The tread pattern is the same as its predecessor but the compound has changed. Yokohama says it gives greater grip and control and brings the tyre in the Advan series closer to the racing tyres of a company that has been a WTCC supplier for many years. Soon to be available in 9 sizes, the range will be expanded to 44 for 15” to 19” rims.

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