ESTORIL, Portugal-The Pirelli Tire Sector (Pirelli Coordinamento Pneumatici) calls its latest tire-the Pirelli P6000-``the intelligent tire.'' The company's first entirely computer-generated tire, the P6000 possesses an optimum balance of performance characteristics, Pirelli said, to provide ``active safety'' regardless of the road or weather conditions.
In fact, the tire maker uses the phrase ``Pirelli Active Safety System'' (PASS) to describe the technology used in the tire.
According to Alessandro Coggi, marketing director, car tires, PASS is ``the technical translation of our marketing phrase, `power is nothing without control.'*''
The P6000 really is a product family, Mr. Coggi said, and will cover a wide range of high- and ultra-high-performance applications. It will be available in more than 40 sizes, with aspect ratios from 45 to 65, rim diameters of 14 to 18 inches and speed ratings from H to W.
Initially, the tire is available in 50- to 65-series sizes for 15- to 17-inch rims. The introduction of other sizes will begin late this year and will be driven by original equipment demand, Mr. Coggi said.
Currently, the P6000 is available in Europe and the Far East. It should debut in North America beginning this summer, Pirelli said, after it has been approved for a mud and snow (M+S) rating.
Aimed squarely at the global OE market, the P6000 was developed in close cooperation with leading European automakers-using Pirelli's Cray supercomputer and state-of-the-art modeling and simulation programs-to be an integral part of vehicles' steering and suspension systems.
The company's goal, according to Lucio Pinto, director of products, was to achieve a ``performance balance''-simultaneously enhancing all the tire's performance characteristics and avoiding the trade-offs that traditionally have been part of tire design, where improvements in one area, such as mileage, could only be achieved at the expense of performance in another area, such as wet handling.
A new tread compound, incorporating both silica and carbon black as fillers, made it possible to reduce the rolling resistance in the P6000, while also improving its wet grip, Mr. Pinto said.
New construction technology has improved the tire's uniformity, reducing vibrations in the car 20 percent, compared with the previous-generation tire, he added.
The tread pattern features a continuous central groove to resist hydroplaning and curved lateral grooves for improved wet grip. A new pitch sequence, patented by Pirelli, reduces tread noise, Mr. Pinto said.
Compared with the P600, the previous-generation tire it is destined eventually to replace, the P600O outperforms across the board, he said. Rolling resistance is cut 15 percent; wet and dry handling are both improved 10 percent, as is mileage. Resistance to aquaplaning is 5 percent better, and noise levels, ride comfort and overall styling are significantly better as well.
The P6000 already has been approved for OE fitment on various Models of Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Peugeot and Renault, and is in trials with most other major European automakers, said Gian Luca Braggiotti, deputy general manager, sales and marketing.
Pirelli foresees annual sales of up to 10 million P6000s as early as 1996, which will more than compensate for the company's $50 million investment in the tire's development, including OE trials, Mr. Braggiotti said.