Airless tires could change the way cars roll.
Michelin is not alone in the quest to bring about a revolution in tires. Hankook’s iFlex joins the Michelin Tweel in the neverland between the drawing board and the tire rack. Like the Tweel, the iFlex has a flexible composite plastic structure that acts as the spring and damper normally handled by the compressed air inside conventional tires. The main advantages to consumers of such a wheel would be reduced tire damage. Punctures are no longer a problem. As Michelin’s use of the Tweel on construction equipment has proven, durability and strength are not a barrier for this technology.
Hankook highlights the other side of the business in its promotion of the iFlex. According to Hankook, the design takes only about half the manufacturing effort. Hankook also says that the iFlex would cut down significantly on the recycling challenges of conventional tires. Lighter than an alloy rim and tire combination the iFlex might also save fuel and offer performance improvements. However, it is the fashion statement that these wheels could make that could put them in driveways.