A tire unveiled by Goodyear at the Geneva Motor Show at the beginning of March could change the future of electric vehicles.
The BH03 contains thermo-piezoelectric material that turns heat — generated when the tire turns or absorbs sunlight — into electricity. That means that electric cars could go longer between charges without developers figuring out how to improve batteries, tackling a major barrier to widespread adoption of electric vehicles.
“I believe battery technology, whether related to vehicles, smart phones or computers is the “hot” engineering development market right now,” says Rick Genins, Owner, Genin AutoCare. “Everything seems to be smaller, smarter & operate on batteries. We all have had our cell phones run out of battery mid-day, right? As far as speaking directly to Goodyear’s new product; many advances in today’s automotive technology started to be developed back in the ‘50s & ‘60s, so it will need to be cost effective and lastly, technology advances are far faster than the general public’s ability to afford technology.”
Goodyear has not yet indicated exactly how much electricity can be generated from the design.
The company has also held off on revealing how electricity from the tires would be tied into the power system of the car, how much the tire might cost, or when it would become commercially available.
Alongside the BH03, Goodyear also debuted the TripleTube concept tire, a design that could essentially change shape for maximum traction and handling depending on driving conditions.
As its name suggests, the tire features three separate tubes under the tread that would be inflated to different levels by an internal air pump based on road factors. If a car were driving straight on a dry road, for example, all three would be inflated evenly.
But a sport setting would decrease inflation on the innermost tube for more precise handling, and a wet setting would inflate the center chamber to maximum in order to prevent hydroplaning (rounder surfaces, such as motorcycle tires, do a better job of moving water out from under the tire).
Again, Goodyear gave no prospective release timeline nor released any financial details on the tire.
Although both tires are probably far from commercial production, they highlight a trend of tires becoming a more integral part of vehicle design, containing sophisticated sensors and communicating with complex computer systems. As Larry Dignan wrote for tech site ZDNet in his report on the tires: “Simply put, everything is getting smarter by the minute.”