General Motors seeks better fuel economy through tire technology
The National Tire Research Center's performance test equipment can run a tire up to 200 mph.
General Motors is partnering with researchers at the new National Tire Research Center in Virginia to improve fuel economy through the development of new tire technology.
GM, in a statement last week, said tire design can help increase fuel efficiency by as much as 7 percent. Variations in tread pattern, construction and material quality are just a few factors that determine the rolling resistance of a tire. Vehicles with lower rolling resistance require less fuel to move the vehicle forward.
Tires with lower rolling resistance, along with more efficient conventional engines and electric powertrains, are expected help customers save money on gasoline.
The National Tire Research Center received $5 million in contributions from GM. With state-of-the-art tire performance machinery, automakers and tire manufacturers will be able to simulate real-world emergencies and improve highway safety, the statement said.
The center has $11.2 million in tire performance test equipment, according to the statement. Known as the Flat-Trac LTRe, the equipment can run a tire up to 200 mph and provide data on handling, ride, torque and braking capabilities.
The data gathered by GM and other auto engineers from the Flat-Trac LTRe could predict vehicle performance for low rolling resistance, better road-handling capability and other criteria, the statement said.
"This facility's test equipment is like going from a basic telescope to the Hubble — it opens up a whole new world of possibilities," Frank Della Pia, executive director for the research center, said in the statement.
A GM spokesperson said the company plans to continue their collaborative work at the research center for the next two decades.
The spokesperson would not comment on future vehicles, but did say that the industry could see market implementation in the next two or three years.