Nissan files patent for airless tires, joining Goodyear and Michelin in the race for puncture-free wheels

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Airless tires gain traction as automakers seek solutions for emissions regulations and durability

Nissan has submitted a patent application for airless tires, adding its name to the list of automakers exploring this innovative technology. Airless tires, which eliminate the need for traditional pneumatic air-filled tires, have gained attention as a potential solution for addressing emissions regulations and enhancing durability.

Pioneering the airless tire revolution
Goodyear was among the first companies to introduce airless tire technology in 2022, followed by Michelin’s Uptis in 2023. Nissan’s approach to airless tires aligns with the principles of these pioneering developments. In airless tire designs, the absence of sidewalls necessitates the use of various spokes arranged to effectively absorb road imperfections and provide traction.

However, one significant challenge in creating airless tires is managing the load forces that impact the spokes closest to the road surface. Strengthening the outer part of the airless tire might seem like a straightforward solution, but Nissan identifies potential drawbacks, such as a reduced contact patch, limited shock absorption capabilities, and difficulties in handling lateral forces during steering maneuvers.

Nissan’s innovative solution
Nissan’s patent introduces a novel approach to address these challenges. The key innovation is a system of multiple elastic spokes arranged radially from the outer circumferential side of the wheel towards the inner circumferential side of the tire tread. Essentially, this design incorporates numerous elastic spokes between the wheel and the tread.

By employing this arrangement, the load exerted on the tire is effectively transferred to the spokes, resulting in reduced wear and tear on the external tread. Nissan’s airless tires are envisioned for use on a wide range of vehicles, including four-wheeled vehicles, two-wheeled vehicles, industrial vehicles, bicycles, and various other applications requiring tires.

The drive towards airless tires
The sudden interest in airless tires by prominent automakers is likely driven by upcoming Euro 7 emissions regulations, which impose stringent restrictions on brakes and tires. While the automotive industry successfully challenged some aspects of these regulations, the provisions related to controlling particulate emissions from brakes and tires remained unchanged.

Airless tires offer several advantages that appeal to manufacturers and consumers alike. They are puncture-resistant and less susceptible to damage, potentially reducing the frequency of tire replacements. This, in turn, can contribute to environmental benefits by reducing waste and resource consumption.

While airless tires represent an innovative and eco-friendly solution, questions remain about their performance and suitability for high-performance vehicles. Enthusiasts may have reservations about pushing a high-performance car equipped with airless tires to its limits on a track, given the technology’s unique characteristics.

As the automotive industry continues to explore airless tire technology, it remains to be seen how these innovative tires will impact the market and whether they will become a viable alternative to traditional pneumatic tires.