The promise of a tire that never needs air but still affordably offers a long period of usefulness on the road is the dream of many commuters. It's also a problem that companies are still trying to crack with some slow progress. For example, the Michelin Tweel is in production for commercial applications, and Polaris offers the TerrainArmor on an ATV. Hankook and its iFlex non-pneumatic tire concept is the latest attempt to bring the technology a little closer towards production for cars.

Hankook believes that the iFlex non-pneumatic tires can do everything a traditional one can. Unfortunately, the company isn't going into too many specifics about how everything works at this time. The prototype reportedly completed successful tests of its ride, handling, and high-speed driving abilities, though.

The Korean tire maker has been trying to make the non-pneumatic tire concept work well on passenger vehicles for years. The iFlex was actually the company's fifth prototype for the idea, and one major change for the latest one was a switch to a more environmentally friendly construction material. The change meant production was less energy intensive and recycling was easier. Hankook was also able to cut manufacturing down to four steps, rather than eight before. However, the business isn't saying if actual mass production of a consumer version is on the way anytime soon.
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Hankook Tire's Future-oriented Tire Succeeds High-speed Driving without Air Pressure

• Hankook Tire aims to create future driving experiences through proven technology leadership propelled by continuous R&D investments

July 13, 2015 (Seoul, Korea) – Hankook Tire announced that it had successfully completed its ride and handling tests for its latest non-pneumatic tire (NPT) Hankook iFlex, which is made using eco-friendly materials.

The iFlex is the latest example of Hankook Tire's continued technology leadership. The company's ability to push the boundaries of driving capabilities is a direct result of its robust foundation in R&D as well as the following world-class technological prowess.

As the name suggests, NPTs do not require air pressure. Hankook Tire has continued researching on the new tire technologies particularly for NPT since 2011. Crucially, the company has been working toward the development of NPTs that achieve all of the practical benefits of conventional air pressure tires while simultaneously enhancing their high speed tire characteristics. The iFlex, which is the fifth NPT concept tire that Hankook Tire has released, is the culmination of that effort.

The company put the iFlex through a serious of rigorous tests designed to push the tires to their limits in five categories: durability, hardness, stability, slalom (zigzag) and speed. In the speed test, the electric car equipped with iFlex tires reached 130km/h. The impressive results in all five categories demonstrated that the NPTs could match conventional tires in terms of performance. At the same time, these results are expected to help the company solidify its position as a global top-tier tire company and, give new momentum to its future-oriented R&D capabilities.

Construction of the iFlex is centered on a new type of uni-material designed to maximize the tire's eco-friendly potential. From a manufacturing standpoint, the material used during product construction significantly enhances the energy efficiency. From a product standpoint, the material allows the iFlex to be recycled with greater ease. Hankook Tire then went one step further, integrating new tire construction techniques to simplify the manufacturing process from eight stages to just four, thus further reducing the company's carbon footprint.

"The Hankook iFlex's ability to deliver the perfect high-speed driving performance is the result of Hankook Tire's longstanding commitment to independently developing progressive, innovative tire technology. Aiming to strengthen our technological leadership in the global tire market, we will continue to develop cutting edge eco-friendly and future-oriented tires" says Mr. Seung-Hwa Suh, Vice Chairman and CEO of Hankook Tire.

Hankook Tire currently has a number of projects underway that are centered on developing future-oriented tire products. For example, 'The Next Driving Lab,' a brand campaign that was initiated in 2013, is operated primarily to let talented engineers and designers bring to life their wildest futuristic dreams for innovative driving experiences. Likewise, Hankook Tire collaborates every two years with world-renowned design schools to host the 'Design Innovation' project. This project allows students to propose and study future tire concepts designed at generating safer, more reliable, and more advanced tire performances.


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