Eco-performance tyres play an important part in finding the balance between vehicle performance and environmentally friendly design. More and more the modern automotive industry strives to incorporate environmentally friendly and fuel efficient elements into vehicles. Often this comes in the form of manufacturing processes, materials and engine technologies, but tyres can make a big difference to the fuel efficiency and lowering of emissions.
Tyres designed to be ‘eco’ reduce fuel consumption by providing low rolling resistance. This means that there is less friction between the tyre and the road surface. Because reduced rolling resistance means the tyre’s grip is also reduced, a special compound has to be added to the tyre to create a more effective tread – otherwise the car would be at risk from skidding and less efficient braking. In recent times, this combination was impossible, so the eco-performance tyre is a relatively new development.
Silica was introduced into tyre compounds to provide the necessary grip to low rolling resistance tyres. The design, pattern and contour of tyre tread was also refigured to ensure that optimum grip was available in both dry and wet road conditions. The structure is slightly more rigid, and tread grooves are optimised with narrower sipes, which reduce the deformation of the tread over time, minimising energy loss and rolling resistance. Low rolling resistance gives better fuel economy, saving you money, reducing your emissions and also giving your car a smoother ride.
Environmentally friendly tyres also absorb energy to improve your car’s fuel efficiency, even at high speeds, on wet roads and during braking and manoeuvres, without losing grip. Regular tyres heat up fairly quickly when in use, which uses up additional energy – eco tyres take longer to heat up, therefore reducing energy consumption and in turn, increase the efficiency of the powertrain. One negative of eco tyres is linked to this, in that the portion of rubber making contact with the road tends to heat up quickly during braking, which can shorten braking distances.
Generally, eco tyres are not suited for high performance tyres, because they do not provide the appropriate levels of grip and handling required by these powerful vehicles. However, new ranges of eco-performance tyres are being created to allow high performance cars to reap the benefits of increased fuel efficiency, lower fuel consumption, minimised energy loss and low rolling resistance. Combined with other environmentally friendly attributes, modern cars fitted with eco tyres can significantly make a difference to your carbon emissions – and your wallet.