According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office: “More than a quarter of automobiles and about a third of light trucks (including sport utility vehicles, vans, and pickup trucks) on the roadways of the United States have one or more tires underinflated 8 pounds per square inch (psi) or more below the level recommended by the vehicle manufacturer, according to a report by the Department of Transportation's (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).”
And underinflated tires are not only potentially dangerous, but they can also result in reduced fuel efficiency due to the increase in rolling resistance.
Bridgestone Corp. has developed what may be a solution to this problem. It is a non-pneumatic tire.
That’s right: airless. It can’t be underinflated because it isn’t inflated.
Rather, the tire—still a concept—has a spoke structure consisting of thermoplastic that is surrounded by the rubber tread. The spokes support the weight of the vehicle.
In addition to the environmental benefit achieved by not running the underinflation risk, there are additional benefits, as in the fact that the thermoplastic and the rubber are both reusable.
According to Bridgestone they are working on the means by which this tire concept could be realized in production applications.