Goodyear develops 90 per cent “sustainable” tires with significant EV benefits
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Jan 31, 2023
Mehanaz Yakub

The new eco-friendly tires are made with over a dozen sustainably-sourced materials such as soybean oil, rice husks and recycled plastic

Goodyear has developed a new tire with up to 90 per cent sustainably-sourced materials and driving benefits especially helpful for electric vehicles. Photo: Goodyear

The new eco-friendly tires are made with over a dozen sustainable materials such as soybean oil, rice husks and recycled plastic

Goodyear has developed new tires with up to 90 per cent sustainable materials and benefits especially relevant for electric vehicles.

The tires are sourced using a combination of natural and synthetic materials, including plant-based oils, bio-based materials and recycled materials that make them sustainable and less harmful to the environment.

Goodyear’s foray into manufacturing tires with sustainable ingredients is part of the company’s efforts to reduce its environmental footprint and promote sustainable practices in the tire industry.

“At our core, sustainability is really part of our strategy around enabling mobility,” says Erin Spring, senior director of global materials science at Goodyear, in an interview with Electric Autonomy.

“As a company, we’re committed to solutions that are best for our people, our customers, and our communities, so it just seemed natural that we would progress on this journey towards sustainable materials.”

Goodyear is taking notice of the overall consumer shift toward EVs in general. The company has a line-up of tires manufactured specifically for electric cars. Sustainable tires, Spring adds, are “a great fit” for EVs.

Hitting sustainability targets

In 2020, Goodyear committed to creating a tire built entirely out of materials that are sustainable by the end of 2030.

“We want to be able to help our customers meet their sustainability targets, whether it’s OEMs or fleets, or even the end consumer,” says Spring.

“We don’t want to be sitting back waiting for the requirements to come, but to really be able to show what’s possible and be on the leading edge.”

In 2022, the tire manufacturer showcased a prototype of a 70 per cent sustainable tire made with 13 green ingredients across nine different tire components. It goes into commercial-scale production this year.

The 2023 generation of Goodyear’s sustainable tires — hitting 90 per cent sustainability — includes 17 green ingredients across 12 different components.

The latter tire was first on display at CES 2023 in Las Vegas this January.

The tire materials

Spring says Goodyear is using a range of new and innovative materials that are “pretty exciting” to build its sustainable tires.

“We’ve used silica as a reinforcement in our tires for several years. Now we are able to get silica from rice husk ash,” explains Spring.

“We work with a supplier in China that produces rice. They have to take the husk off the rice and it gets turned into ash that, previously, was a waste product. We turn the waste into treasure and use it in our products.”

Goodyear’s 90 per cent sustainable-material demonstration tire includes 17 featured ingredients across 12 different components. Photo: Goodyear

Carbon black is a common compound reinforcement in tires. It helps to lengthen tire life and give its colour. But it usually comes from burning petroleum products, says Spring.

Goodyear is now using carbon black derived from methane, carbon dioxide and plant-based oil. The company says this creates fewer emissions than the conventional process.

Goodyear also uses soybean oil instead of petroleum oil to keep the tire rubber compound pliable in changing temperatures.

Additionally, the sustainable tires include polyester sourced from recycled plastic bottles and other waste, as well as recycled materials from other tires, says Spring.

The EV advantage

Goodyear says it is ensuring its portfolio of sustainably-sourced tires meets the same performance standards as its traditional tires.

“We definitely are always seeking to have the best leading performance products [since] tires are a safety product,” says Spring. “We are putting our tires made from these materials through those same processes, through those same performance testing and hurdles.”

Spring says the results from those tests show that the sustainable-material tires perform equal to or even “slightly better” than conventional tires. One of the best performance attributes is rolling resistance.

This particularly benefits electric vehicle owners.

“The tire was made for passenger vehicles — whether combustion engine or electric. One piece of this tire that we’re finding is that…it has less rolling resistance. This makes it more energy efficient and useful for electric vehicles,” says Spring.

Range is often one of the biggest points of anxiety and concern for drivers. Goodyear sees the new tires made with sustainable materials as a solution to potentially extend the range of battery charge and improve the overall driving experience of its customers.

Sustainable tires on sale

Goodyear is beginning full-scale production of the 70 per cent sustainable tire in 2023. The plan is to make them available to the market in the coming months.

Spring says interested customers can sign up for news on the availability of Goodyear’s 70 per cent sustainable tire online.

Meanwhile, Goodyear’s 90 per cent sustainable demonstration tire has already passed all internal tests for road use and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Standards tests. However, the company now says it must scale up some of the additional sustainable materials included in them before they can be publicly available.

“With any innovation, we’re in this early stage where we are working with our supply base to go from some proof of concepts to early volumes to scaling them up so we can have more on the market,” says Spring.

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