As automakers work to make their vehicles more efficient on the road, they have many challenges. Reducing weight, increasing internal combustion engine efficiency, electrifying vehicles, among other efforts, have some of today’s vehicles pushing 100 mpg-e. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions and fuel expenses are reduced. All that effort could be for naught, if the manufacturing processes don’t get cleaner.
Every year, millions of tires are manufactured, and when you take into consideration that it takes up to ten gallons of oil to make a single tire, one can see the environmental complications. Multiply that times five tires for each of 250 million vehicles on the road in 2010, and then we can see where 12.5 billion gallons of oil goes every year, not into the tank, but on the road.
True, tires are recyclable, and that helps defray the oil-cost, but Bridgestone is taking it one step further, by eliminating petroleum from a concept tire that it revealed during the 2012 Paris Motor Show. Bridgestone’s concept tire is made from natural rubber from hevea trees and other plant fibers, as well as synthetic rubber from biomass, eliminating petroleum sources without sacrificing performance or durability.
We can’t look to see these tires too soon, though. Bridgestone has targeted 2050 for a commercially viable vehicle tire, and 2020 to have some of the materials commercially available.