With Frankfurt just around the corner, a lot of attention will be focused on some flashy new concept cars being shown to the world for the first time. Hardly noticed, but vitally important to the overall impact of these show cars are the tires. Slapping a set of off-the-rack tires on a futuristic dream car is like wearing a pair of old shoes with a new suit. One tire company, Continental, has given us a glimpse at how it determines the right tire for the right car in these cases.
Continental says its design team actually starts with a standard tire and works with the manufacturer to create a unique look. Certain tread patterns evoke certain emotional responses which must be properly paired with the overall intent of the vehicle. Sports cars need "aggressive tread patterns which give the feeling of speed," for instance. Color can even be used to highlight the tread or sidewalls. SUVs, on the other hand, need off-road tread blocks, even if 90+ percent of them will never go through anything more challenging than a grassy parking lot at the ball field. Filling the wheel wells is also a big consideration.
You can read more in the Continental release that follows the jump.
Concept vehicles are a main attraction at International Motor Shows and this month, Frankfurt will be no exception. The tyres on these concept cars are an integral part of the look and feel of vehicle and Continental has a specialist team of designers working on these eye-catching designs.
The Continental design team's task is to give standard tyres a unique look to compliment the manufacturers' concept car. This varies depending on the vehicles style and audience. Sports car tyres require aggressive tread patterns which give the feeling of speed. These also often have colour to highlight the tread or the tyre sidewalls. For SUVs, the manufacturer expects prominent tread blocks for maximum off-road traction. The smaller the wheel arch and the broader the tyre, the more prominent the sidewall design. If more space is available for the tyre, the tread design is more important.
A new special production tyre takes three to five months to develop. The manufacturers brief is taken and then the workshop creates prototypes of various design ideas by hand. Continental has created special tyres for BMW, Ford, Jaguar, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz, Vauxhall, Smart, Volvo and Volkswagen. This year's IAA will again showcase concept vehicles with Continental's elaborately designed, hand-made tyres.