Major Japanese tire manufacturers have released prototypes of next-generation products with more environmentally friendly features just in time for this year's Tokyo Motor Show: a tire that does not need air to inflate and another made only of nonpetroleum materials.
Bridgestone Corp.'s new "air-free" tire uses a special kind of meshlike resin on the sides of the tire to support a vehicle's weight. According to the company, all materials used in the tire are recyclable.
At the motor show, which runs through Sunday, Bridgestone is exhibiting an electric single-seat scooter using a prototype of the new tire.
"The tires can absorb enough shocks to allow you to enjoy a comfortable ride," an official said.
On the other hand, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. has released a prototype of a new tire that does not use petroleum or any other kinds of fossil fuels by replacing them with plant-derived additives.
The company will study the durability of the tire and develop techniques for mass production before its planned sale starting in 2013, Sumitomo said.
Meanwhile, fuel-saving tires currently available on the market have also been improved. Toyo Tire & Rubber Ltd. announced this week that it would start selling a new tire in February that can meet the highest grade for fuel savings while simultaneously improving brake performance on wet road surfaces.
The Yokohama Rubber Co. has also been selling a snow tire featuring superior brake performance on frozen road surfaces.