AKRON-Has tire development reached a plateau? No, and it probably never will, according Continental AG. Chairman Hubertus von Grunberg, who addressed an international gathering of tire engineers at The Tire Society's 15th annual conference in Akron, March 19. The tire has been around for a century, but just during the last 30 years engineers have been making marked improvements in the handling performance, rolling resistance, weight, service life and speed capabilities of tires, he said.
``The (technology) advances are possible through major advances in the road tire industry,'' he said.
The corporate shake-outs and consolidations of the past have made advances in tire development possible, and he predicted more consolidations to come in the tire industry as manufacturers ``race to be the winner of the next round of possible changes.''
Tire development also has been enhanced by computers that enable engineers to conduct more calculations and simulations, and shorten the development cycle.
There are opinions that tire development has reached its plateau, but Mr. von Grunberg disagreed. He predicted there will continue to be progress in tire weight reduction, wet grip and rolling resistance. And he believes some progress in these areas will include further development of automotive systems around the tire, such as anti-lock braking systems.