DETROIT (Oct. 23, 2001) — BMW and Ford Motor Co. have agreed to equip cars with environmentally friendly Goodyear tires containing a corn-derived compound.
Goodyear expects sales to boom for the GT3 BioTred. Compared with conventional tires made with carbon black, the new tire is less polluting to produce, is quieter on the road, boosts car fuel economy 5 percent and stops faster on wet roads, the tiremaker said.
BMW this month agreed to put BioTreds on an economy 3 series model. Earlier, Ford approved the tires for an economy Fiesta.
Goodyear's new tire uses a polymer derived from ordinary cornstarch, or corn flour—used by cooks to thicken sauces and in hundreds of commercial food products. The polymer is mixed with synthetic rubber, largely replacing the soot-like carbon black used in the century-old tire-making process.
Goodyear has been selling BioTreds as replacement tires for two years in European markets, but the BMW and Ford contracts are the first original-equipment orders, said Mike Wynn, a Goodyear account executive. “The fact that Ford and now BMW have approved the use of BioTred on production cars is a major step,” Mr. Wynn said.
The environmental image of a corn-derived tire ingredient has helped Goodyear market the tires to consumers, said Steve Tidmarsh, consumer sales and marketing manager. The tire is being produced in 18 sizes at Goodyear´s plant in Amiens, France, and in a few sizes at Philippsburg, Germany; Wolver-hampton, England; and Istanbul, Turkey.
Since the tire carcasses are virtually the same, BioTred is manufactured alongside the tire maker's conventional GT2 line. Compared with the GT2 tire, the BioTred:
* Cuts fuel consumption by 5 percent;
* Reduces rolling noise by half;
* Improves wet braking by 10 percent;
* Makes aquaplaning 5 percent less likely;
* Cuts car CO2 emissions by 7.5 grams per km because of lower rolling resistance; and
* Sharply cuts CO2 emissions in the tire manufacturing process.
Ian Morton writes for Automotive News, a sister publication of Tire Business.