Low-pressure truck tires introduced, 1925, by Michelin in France. The concept cushioned drivers and cargo and extended tire life to "unheard-of levels"-10,000+ miles.
Drop-center, one-piece wheel adopted, 1926, by auto makers to simplify tire changing. It continues to be the standard design used for passenger cars and light trucks.
Improved chemical adhesive systems developed in the late 1920s and early '30s by E.I. Du Pont and others, enabled use of stronger synthetic cord to replace the staple cotton found in earlier tires. Prior to this, cotton cords were bonded to rubber using a mixture of casein and animal blood, which proved ineffective with rayon and other synthetic fibers.
First widely used synthetic rubber (neoprene) developed, 1931. The discovery of polychloroprene (known commercially as neoprene) is credited to three individuals: Father Julius A. Nieuwland, a Catholic priest at Notre Dame University, as well as Wallace Carothers of Du Pont and Arnold Collins of Columbia University. Neoprene today is used primarily for industrial rubber products.
First wide-base pneumatic industrial tire in 1933, was introduced by General Tire Co.
Germany renewed research on synthetic rubber in 1933. Buna-S and Buna-N synthetics were first developed by the I.G. Farben Cartel. They provided further groundwork for SBR, developed later during World War II. The Bu in the name stands for the butadiene monomer, the synthetic near-twin of natural rubber's isoprene. The Na is the abbreviation for the sodium catalyst. Buna S was named for its styrene component. Buna N for its nitrile component. The world's first synthetic rubber tire was produced that same year by Semperit of Austria in cooperation with chemical maker Bayer A.G. The first all-synthetic tire produced in the U.S. was developed in 1940 by B.F. Goodrich.
Uniform dimensions for highway tires agreed on in 1935.
Pneumatic farm tractor tires introduced, 1935, by Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. and others. Firestone soon began a nationwide campaign to "put the farm on rubber."
Butyl synthetic rubber developed, 1937, by Robert M. Thomas and William J. Sparks of Exxon Corp. Butyl later was improved on by Francis P. Baldwin of the same company, who steered development of chlorinated butyl, combining high air-retention and greater compatibility with other types of rubber. This permitted use of chlorobutyl in innerliners of tubeless tires, while butyl's incompatibility with other rubbers has limited its use to inner tubes.
Rayon tire cord introduced, 1938, by Goodyear and others to replace cotton reinforcement. Rayon proved particularly well suited to the higher operating temperatures found in synthetic rubber tires and captured 75 percent of the market by 1948, when it began to face competition from nylon tire reinforcement. Rayon still is widely used today.
Steel-cord bias-ply truck tire introduced, 1938, by Michelin, the first successful bonding of tire rubber to steel.
First commercial synthetic tire, 1940, was introduced by B.F. Goodrich using a butadiene-containing copolymer called "Ameripol" rubber. In the same year, Firestone and U.S. Rubber obtained licenses to begin production using Buna S. The first synthetic tires were prohibitively expensive, but helped convince the U.S. government of the practicality of developing a general-purpose synthetic to replace natural rubber.
Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR), 1941, was developed after U.S. supplies of natural rubber were interrupted by World War II. Originally named GR-S (government rubber-styrene), SBR was developed by a federally sponsored brain trust made up of representatives from science and industry. It was a styrene-butadiene copolymer modeled closely on the German Buna S.
Nylon cord, used for military tires during World War II, was expanded to civilian tires in 1947, following the end of that war.
Tubeless tires introduced to U.S. market, 1947, by B.F. Goodrich. Dunlop introduced the first British-built tubeless tire in 1953.
Low-temperature polymerization of SBR perfected, 1948, greatly improving tire wear capabilities. This was an outgrowth of earlier research begun by I.G. Farben chemists in Germany during the 1930s. It was carried to completion in the U.S. following World War II by a task force headed by Carl S. Marvel of the University of Illinois. The process greatly expanded use of SBR. Today, it is the most widely used of all types of rubber for tire manufacturing purposes.
Steel-belted radial tire introduced in Europe, 1949, by Michelin and marketed under the name Michelin X. Although radial construction soon was adopted by manufacturers in Europe, it would be more than two decades before it saw widespread acceptance by U.S. tire makers.
Use of radial construction broadened to include truck sizes, 1952, by Michelin, doubling the treadwear offered by bias tires and boosting fuel economy 8-12 percent.
Textile-belted passenger radials introduced, 1953, in Europe by Pirelli S.p.A.
Polyisoprene synthetic rubber introduced, 1954, by B.F. Goodrich and Firestone. Credit for directing development of polyisoprene, the synthetic most resembling natural rubber, is given to Samuel E. Horne Jr. of B.F. Goodrich, and Frederick W. Stavely of Firestone, whose respective research teams arrived at the same basic results independently. Their work was built on earlier accomplishments of Germany's Karl Ziegler and Italy's Giulio Natta, who won the 1963 Nobel prize in chemistry for developing the catalysts which permitted production of rubber by artificial means. This provided the key that unlocked synthetic rubber's secrets.
Pirelli licenses radial tire-building equipment, 1955.
Radial farm tractor drive tire introduced, 1955, by Pirelli in Italy. A similar tire was introduced to the U.S. market in 1973 by B.F. Goodrich. The radial increased drive-wheel traction.
Tubeless steel-braced radial truck tire and one-piece wheel debuted, 1962, by Michelin.
Polyester cord introduced, 1963, by Goodyear and others as a replacement for nylon, which had lost favor with auto makers due to a tendency to develop temporary flat spots when parked in cold weather.
Bias-belted tires, featuring fiberglass belts, introduced, 1965, by Armstrong Rubber Co. Bias-belted passenger tires replaced bias tires as the U.S. industry standard in 1967, gradually giving way to radial-ply tires over the next 13 years.
B.F. Goodrich produces first radial tire in North America, 1965.
Passenger tires grow fatter, wider beginning in 1965, as height-to-width ratios decline from 80-percent to 75- and even 70-percent within three years. By the 1980s, low-profile tires (some as low as 35-percent) could be found on high-performance cars, mirroring a trend in race tires. Broadline passenger tires have followed a similar pattern as well.
Bias-belted tires dominate replacement passenger tire market, 1966.
Michelin, in partnership with Sears, Roebuck and Co., introduces replacement passenger radial under the Sears Allstate brand name, 1966.
Government imposes minimum safety standards on passenger tires, 1968.
H-(speed) rated radial introduced, 1968, by Pirelli.
V-rated passenger radial introduced, 1971, by Pirelli.
Total mobility or "run flat" tire introduced, 1972, by Dunlop of England (becoming commercially available under the name Denovo).
Aramid-reinforced radial introduced, 1974, by Goodyear, following development of the fiber by DuPont Corp. two years earlier.
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) requirements for new cars, 1975, issued by the U.S. government.
Passenger radials dominate North American OE market in 1975, five years after their introduction by Ford Motor Co. on the Lincoln and Mark III
LIM (liquid injection molded) tire introduced, 1975, by Polyair of Austria. To date, molded tires have not seen widespread use for highway applications.
B.F. Goodrich begins marketing to individual interest groups, 1976, with the introduction of the Radial All-Terrain T/A.
All-season passenger tire introduced, 1977, by Goodyear.
Pilot X low-profile truck radial introduced by Michelin, 1978, promising increased fuel economy, improved vehicle handling and added payload capacity in the case of cube-sensitive cargoes.
Mini spare introduced, 1979, by Firestone, using bias-ply construction.
Uniroyal introduced puncturing-sealing tire, the Royal Seal, 1979. Firestone introduced a similar tire in 1980 but discontinued it two years later due to slack demand. General Tire introduced its Gen*Seal puncture-sealant tire in 1982 and later expanded use of the concept to its Ameri*Way passenger tire line. Puncture sealing tires continue to be offered by both Uniroyal and General brands.
Radial passenger tires dominate North American replacement market, 1981. By that time, European markets had been predominately radial for nearly 20 years, illustrating the late start by U.S. tire makers.
First high-performance directional tread tire accepted as OE, 1982. Developed jointly by General Motors and Goodyear.
B.F. Goodrich introduces first U.S.-made V-rated radial, 1982, the Comp T/A.
General Tire's Akron plant closes, 1982, ending large-scale tire making in the "Rubber City."
High-performance all-season tire introduced, 1986, by Goodyear as the Eagle GT+4.
Radials dominate the U.S. replacement light truck tire market, 1987, having achieved that status in the original equipment market about two years earlier.
Radial aircraft tire production begun, 1983, by Michelin.
Radials dominate U.S. commercial truck tire shipments, 1987.
RCOT radial announced, 1985, by Bridgestone. The name stands for Rolling Contour Optimization Theory, meaning designers seek to approximate the profile of the moving tire during rotation.
Wave of North American tire industry consolidation begins during 1985, with the leveraged buyout of Uniroyal by the New York investment firm of Clayton & Dubilier. B.F. Goodrich ceases production of radial truck, farm, OTR tires to concentrate on replacement passenger tires-particularly high performance radials.
In 1986, Uniroyal and B.F. Goodrich merge to form the Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. That same year, Goodyear repells a hostile takeover by Anglo-French financier James Goodsmith. Meanwhile, in the mid '80s Sumitomo Rubber of Japan bought Dunlop's U.S. and European operations.
In 1987, General Tire is acquired by Continental A.G. of Germany, following a hostile takeover attempt on GenCorp., the U.S.-based tire maker's parent company. That same year, General Tire, Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. and Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. of Japan agree to a three-way technology exchange that includes building a joint U.S. tire plant. In 1988, Bridgestone Corp. of Japan buys Firestone, later merging the company with its own U.S. operations, headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. Pirelli Group of Italy buys Armstrong Tire Co., later merging it with its U.S. marketing arm to form Pirelli Armstrong Corp. In 1989, Group Michelin of France announces plans to purchase Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co., but the transaction is delayed for 11 months by a U.S. Justice Department probe of the venture's possible consequences. Mohawk Rubber Co. is acquired by Japan's Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. that same year.
Goodyear Aquatred tire introduced, 1991, with its distinctive circumferential center tread groove for removing water from the contact surface.
Bridgestone/Firestone introduces Blizzak snow tire featuring multi-cell technology, 1992.
Michelin creates C3M automated manufacturing system, 1993, in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
Michelin debuts "Green" radial tire using high-dispersion silica rather than traditional carbon black rubber reinforcement, 1994.
Michelin develops PAX (originally PAV) run-flat system, 1996, based on the concept of a vertically anchored tire.
Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act signed into law, 2000, among other things requiring the revision of previously existing federal tire standards and mandatory tire inflation monitoring systems in new cars.
Pirelli Group puts its first MIRS (Modular Integrated Roboticized System) tire production system on line, 2000, in Milan, Italy.
Michelin X One wide single truck tire introduced, 2000, as a replacement for duals in long-haul applications.
Pirelli announces completion of a pilot CCM (continuous compound mixing system) facility, 2003, serving its MIRS automated tire plant in Milan, Italy. CCM is said to complete the company's objective of making all phases of the tire production process totally automated.