Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The strong, silent tyre - Goodyear using Kevlar to beef up new product

The strong, silent tyre

Goodyear using Kevlar to beef up new product

Published on December 12, 2007

When a tyre company tells you they need to put Kevlar (the stuff that's used in bulletproof vests) in their tyres to keep them quiet, you stop to think for a moment. Have tyre companies gone a little whacko, or am I totally out of date about the latest tyre technology?

The latter is the truth. My ignorance was shown up at the Bira racing circuit, where Goodyear had decided to launch its latest SUV tyre, the Wrangler HP AW. This tyre uses Kevlar as it is good at absorbing noise and obviously helps in strengthening the tyre. (Whether it will stop a bullet is something I still wonder about). Another advantage of Kevlar is that it can operate over a wider range of temperatures than nylon, which is used in tyres generally. Kevlar is not affected by fatigue and therefore more reliable in the long run.

Kevlar has been used by other tyre-makers like Michelin and Bridgestone; however, its greatest use has been on high-performance cars. Goodyear is the first company to include this material in a mass-market product.

Anyway, now to the point of the Wrangler HP AW. The new tyre from Goodyear is, according to company president Richard Fleming, the ideal tyre for those who have an SUV or a 4WD vehicle and occasionally venture off road. The company says the new tyre provides good traction on road while not sacrificing too much off road either.

The speciality of the Wrangler, however, is its focus on wet handling and silence, and the technology that makes it silent is appropriately called SilentArmor. On a wet portion of the Bira track, a Toyota Fortuner shod with the Wrangler HP AW and another Fortuner with a competitor's tyres were brake-tested. The braking distance for the Goodyear was 31.6 metres, a whole 5.1m less than the competitor. I would have definitely preferred it if I had been the one behind the wheel. The braking was repeated three times to reduce chances of error.

When it came to noise-testing, the Wrangler shone through without a doubt. While the competitor got a noise rating of 68.4dB on the inside and 76.6dB on the outside, the Goodyears managed 64.5dB on the inside and 72.4dB on the outside.

On the wet track the Wrangler did handle marginally better that its competitor, although whether this margin was a feeling inside my head with all the Goodyear marketing slogans around was unclear. A fellow journalist who had been testing both the Wrangler and its competitor for three days on the track said that over time the differences became more obvious.

Goodyear has yet to release the price of the Wrangler HP AW but says it will be competitive. So if you're looking for a smooth ride and a little quiet and you venture off the road once in a blue moon, consider the Wrangler at your nearest Goodyear Eagle store.

Vijo Varghese

The Nation

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