Bill Sharfman is director of judging for the Automotive News PACE awards, an annual event that recognizes top innovations by automotive suppliers. This week, Sharfman launches an occasional column about PACE winners and innovations that find acceptance in the marketplace.
One of our PACE judges likes to say that in two of his passions golf and cars innovations in the most unglamorous components have brought real revolution. He has in mind golf balls and tires.
Unlike golf balls, which are small, round and white, tires are, for the most part, big, round and black. What else can you say?
Well, most consumers don't much like buying tires and don't want to own more of them than they have to. It's not surprising, then, that the search for an "all-weather" or "all-season" or "any-condition" tire is a constant in the business. Innovation likes to eliminate technological compromises a good definition of an all-anything tire, unless it's "all round and black."
Recently Goodyear introduced its Assurance line of tires. Included in that lineup is an all-weather tire featuring TripleTred technology.
Goodyear claims the tire will provide superior traction in any kind of weather. It also says it is based on the Eagle F1 GS D3 performance tire. You might recall the Eagle F1 it was a PACE Award finalist this year.
The TripleTred features three tread zones: outer ones on either side for dry traction and handling; a center zone for ice; and two zones on either side of the center band for wet zones.
So what's innovative about it? The three tread zones are composed of three rubber compounds. Each compound is designed for a particular condition: dry, wet or ice.
It is not unprecedented to use multiple compounds in one tire. Ultrahigh-performance tires have used multiple compounds. But three distinct compounds are a real achievement for a mass-market tire.