Sustainable Tyres The Next Trend of the Future
Posted by: Lydia on 25/07/2017
The debate about the best way to go green continues across Australia and around the globe, but it’s a safe bet that prioritising sustainability is a good move for the car industry. This ensures needless waste is avoided, and offers opportunity to pursue new innovation and technologies.
With recent statistics showing Australia now recycles approximately 58% of its waste, we will continue to see sustainability having a greater presence in the car world, as the industry seeks to make the old new again. This is already a prominent story when it comes to electric cars, with the successful rollout of the Toyota Prius, and more recently, the Tesla models. With attention to sustainable tyres now growing, let’s look further at this trend in wheels and rubber.
Why do we need sustainable tyres?
The question of why there is a need for sustainable tyres is an expected one. Sure, the demand is there, but what about the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? The fact is that advancing the technology and adoption of sustainable tyres is not only important to the auto industry for its innovations, but it’s also necessary.
It is not news that tyres are hard to recycle, and can be a real safety hazard if not stored properly once discarded. That’s why their recycling and new use is so important. Best of all, there is an ample supply of stock on hand, meaning tyre manufacturers have been able to hit the ground running in creating new models that use old materials.
In this respect, the trend toward sustainable tyres actually has a unique advantage over other emerging technology in the field. Self-driving cars may need programmers to iron out the tweaks, and electric cars may need new batteries created to power them. But once the fundamentals of this new tyre are adopted across tyre manufacturing, their progress should come along in leaps and bounds.
How do sustainable tyres differ?
The idea of sustainable tyres is surely interesting to motorists, but there is always a question that comes up as soon as people learn about them. How are they different from regular tyres?
The difference is principally in the sourcing and use of materials.
New tyres use new materials exclusively in the blending process, whereas sustainable tyres incorporate recycled components in the process. Sustainable tyres can ultimately provide the same experience to a driver that a traditional set of car tyres do. It is beyond the factory floor that differences in the popularity and visibility of sustainable tyres are clearer.
Who is making them?
The famous and familiar names like Michelin, Goodyear, and Bridgestone have been leaders in the development of sustainable tyre technology. This has been a great development as the production of tyres brought cleaner and greener wheels to our vehicles. Even better though, it has meant the tyre creation process in many factories around the world has become greener as well. This has been a win-win from start to finish in the manufacturing process.
Beyond the famous household brands, there are also a number of small manufacturers, seeking to be agents of disruption and pioneer new technology in the field, like Tesla has done with the electric car. While it might be hard to start a whole new car company from your garage, the creation of smaller vehicle parts and accessories has become possible in the online era.
The added benefit of this new technology and tyre manufacturing is that it creates jobs industry-wide. Not only do tyre manufacturers now need to source recycled tyres from suppliers, but there is also the chance to use old rubber deemed unsuitable for new tyres in other ways. A great example of this is the efforts of Australian startup GDT to melt down old tyres into new oil.
What are the drawbacks?
Three drawbacks loom largest when it comes to the widespread adoption of sustainable tyres.
The first concerns cost. Because the auto industry is so huge, and processes are standardised for mass manufacture, it can take time to come up with new methods to produce goods at an affordable price.
The second challenge is buyer loyalty. Whether you are a car guru or simply John/Joan Citizen, many buyers get in the habit of buying the same style of car, using the same grade of petrol, and buying the same tyres. It can be hard to shift buyer loyalty overnight, even if other benefits exist.
The final challenge for sustainable tyres concerns safety. With new materials must come new tests, and new guarantees surrounding their safety. This is also a consideration when it comes to the differing conditions drivers face around the world. Sustainable tyres may work great with snow chains in the middle of a European winter, but if they come to pieces in the Australian summer, they’ll not find any popularity Down Under.
Ultimately, none of these challenges are insurmountable - but just as the self-driving car encountered development setbacks but has began to overcome them, it may take some time before every car on your street has a sustainable set of tyres on its wheels.
The stop and start for sustainable tyres
While sustainable tyres are still a developing part of the auto industry, they are also emerging at a really exciting time for the industry overall. In the early years of the 20th century, Henry Ford released to the world the mass-produced Model T Ford, and it revolutionised our way of life.
Now in the early years of the 21st century, we are on the cusp of another great auto revolution.
This change is set to deliver a more comfortable, safer, and ultimately more enjoyable driving experience. True, tyres are just one part of that trend, but as we’ve shown before, tyres are foundational to your driving experience. From new engines to new computer technology to sustainable tyres, this new chapter in the history of autos promises to be the most exciting yet.
What other sustainable innovations are you looking forward to for your car? Let us know in the comments below: