Kumho creates eco-friendly "Epoch" race concept

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Is the future of racing one populated with bamboo-framed cars with rubber components and magnetic propulsion? Well, according to Kumho Tire, yes. The design study seen here is called the Epoch, and it is the "blue sky" concept brainchild of Kumho designer Rob Dolton.

Epoch is his take on what an eco-friendly racer might look like and consist of, hence the frame made of grown bamboo (no carbon emissions), bodywork and interior made of recycled tire rubber (hey, it is a tire company's concept after all). It's driven by hub-mounted maglev units at each wheel, and the tire shape and tread patterns can be modified at will by sending electrical currents through the rubber. Very sci-fi. Very interesting. We will say this, though: that electro-magic tire technology sure would be handy to have when winter comes around. Snow tires at the touch of a button works for us! Read Kumho's press release after the jump.

[Source: Kumho]


Forward thinking tyre manufacturer Kumho is paving the way for the world's first truly eco-friendly racing car. Inspired by the company's success in this year's Le Mans 24 hour race, it decided to employ its unique conceptual abilities to show exactly what an environmentally friendly Le Mans car of the future could look like. The result is the Epoch!

Epoch by name and nature, Kumho's revolutionary single-seater simply bristles with futuristic technology and green credentials. Its chassis is grown from bamboo, thereby providing an immediate carbon offset, while its lightweight body panels are formed from recycled tyre tread rubber.

Power comes from Maglev (Magnetic Levitation) units integral to the four-wheel hubs. Proven in the railway industry, this advanced electromagnetic technology has the advantage of zero friction as well as maximum torque at zero rpm.

As you'd expect from one of the world's leading tyre manufacturers, the Epoch also boasts revolutionary tyre technology. Known as EAP (Electro Active Polymer), it allows the tread and even the shape of the tyres to be fundamentally altered simply by passing an electric current through the rubber. This is achieved via the positioning of magnets on the hubs and within the wheel rims. It effectively allows the characteristics of the tyre to be altered at will, to suit different tastes and conditions.

Even the car's interior benefits from an example of Kumho's innovative tyre technology, being clad with the type of scented 'aroma' rubber already available for the tyres of various luxury saloons and compact SUVs.

Epoch is the work of Kumho's in-house designer, Rob Dolton. The only qualified vehicle designer employed within the world's tyre industry, he is retained by Kumho's European Technical Centre in Birmingham specifically to explore future technologies for road and track vehicles, and the tyres they run on. A graduate of the internationally renowned Automotive Design Department of Coventry University, he worked for Fiat Advanced Design in Turin before joining Kumho in 2005.

Enthusing about his brainchild Rob Dolton said, "While delighted at winning the LMP2 class at Le Mans this year, we accept that environmental pressures will not allow motorsport to carry on in its current form indefinitely. However, rather than viewing it as an increasingly antisocial pastime, we regard it as a perfect platform for developing green technology solutions. Epoch is an example of just how exciting the future could be."

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