When people talk about improving the eco-footprint of a vehicle, we automatically tend to imagine novel engine technology, solar power, and so forth. But that’s ignoring one vital component that really can make a difference: the tires.
Yokohama’s new tire tech include chemicals derived directly from orange peels. Why orange oil? It’s chemically similar to the molecules in natural rubber, meaning it combines well in the new tire compound, which is important for things like material durability and “stickiness.” And of course, its inclusion reduces how much petroleum-derived products need to be in the tires. The company’s been experimenting with using orange oil for years, but it’s recently ramped up its testing to the point it’s ready to go into production.
The company has been testing these new tires in its Advan ENV-R1 tires on Porsches at the Patron GT3 Challenge races. That makes sense: Racing environments are harsh and can simulate the equivalent of many weeks wear-and-tear on conventional car tires in a compressed time. This is a key for the success of a consumer version of the tires, of course, because few people would choose an eco-friendly tire that wore out faster than a traditional one, particularly as tires are one of the most important safety features on a vehicle. Unfortunately, there’s no word on whether the new technology makes your car smell any nicer.