Hankook iFlex Airless Tires
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The automotive industry and consumers are waiting anxiously for the news that Hankook iFlex Airless Tires are ready for distribution to the general public. Theirs will not be the first airless tires available for sale by tire companies, but the release of Hankook’s version is still causing a lot of excitement since every new version of an interesting product brings with it some upgrades to the original idea.
The Hankook iFlex is known as an NPT or Non-Pneumatic tire.
The significance of such technology cannot be underestimated. Inflatable tires are prone to damage like punctures and overheating causing the tire to burst, often at high speed on a busy highway. The dangers are clear while potential costs associated with these damages are impossible to calculate. Airless tires do not deflate or become over-inflated, thereby reducing risks to drivers.
Another exciting feature of Hankook iFlex Airless Tires is that they are made from a variety of recycled materials. The tires are also recyclable, more easily than traditional tires, in fact; thus, their impact on the environment is significantly reduced. This is an essential element of any new product in the automotive industry.
This product is already more “green” than most tires on the market but there is another reason to laud the new technology. A durable tire will take longer to wear out and, thus, takes longer to wind up on a recycling heap. While recycling is better than wasting, it’s still an industrial process producing emissions.
Hankook has not had to sacrifice the quality and performance of their new tires to provide an environmentally-friendly product. Testing has recently been completed during which the iFlex was put through its paces on a high-speed track. Usually this is where flaws in design show up: at high-speed during the final testing stage. Often this is where Hankook was held up in their pursuit of an airless tire for public consumption.
Hankook used an electric car and achieved speeds of up to 130 km/hr (80 mph). During tests they proved that the iFlex meets all the criteria which make these suitable for use by the general public, safety being the paramount consideration.
Hankook’s iFlex Airless Tire is durable, stable, handles speed well, and can zig zag without losing traction. When released, the iFlex will be available in assorted colors and will look very different from the tires you are accustomed to. There will be lots of gaps within layers of rigid material.
What this Means for Drivers
How will the iFlex impact road users in the future?
When it is released, this tire will help to usher in a new era of ecologically-friendly products for the road. Anticipate new developments in the electric car or hybrid to come alongside the Hankook iFlex.
Expect more tire manufacturers to adapt Hankook’s design to their own purposes with individual branding applied. Don’t be surprised if even more ideas are put forth and promoted to make driving safer for the environment.
This will include the release of seasonal tires such as “winter” or “all-season” varieties for use in various climates around the world. There could be numerous tire sizes as well.
Remember, however, that testing was performed on a particular type of car: an electric one. This is not your usual highway vehicle and can only achieve limited speeds.
Further testing will probably bring the world a high-speed NPT tire in the future which can handle extended periods of high-speed driving on US highways, the German Autobahn, and English motorways.