Pneumatic tires have pretty much looked like, well, pneumatic tires since the late 19th century. Sure, they’ve had changes in terms of tread patterns and sizes, sidewall colors and sidewall sizes. But at the end of the day, they are rubber wrapped around a wheel and inflated with a gas.
Sometimes, tire manufacturers come up with alternatives. Michelin, for example, developed the “Tweel,” which is actually gone into production and available for use on skid steer loaders.
The latest, but still a concept, is the Hankook iFlex, which is airless, and features a spoke structure in place of the wheel. The spokes distribute the pressure during driving so that the bottom compresses and the top expands, so there is a smooth ride.
The tire is made from highly elasticated polyurethane synthetics. It is 95% recyclable, and is said to facilitate lower fuel consumption than conventional pneumatic tires.
What’s more, according to Hankook, it may be possible for consumers to select a color for the center frame, adding a level of personalization.
There is no word whether this concept will ever go into production, so wheel manufacturers and readers of Dub need not worry—yet.