By Matt Schmitz on September 15, 2013
Makers of Fix-a-Flat beware: South Korean tire manufacturer Hankook has conceived of a product that could deflate your entire business model — the airless tire. The company was set to unveil the concept this week at the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany, which opened to the public on Saturday and runs through Sunday.
The i-Flex, the latest incarnation of the "non-pneumatic" tire, is made of elasticated polyurethane synthetics (plastic) and uses organically connected spokes and a spongy construction that allows it to flex for bumps, according to USA Today's description. According to Hankook, "i-Flex" is a wheel-tire combination that offers shock absorbency and rolls more easily than a conventional tire, reducing fuel consumption and noise emissions while also eliminating the worry of flats or low air and improving safety. Moreover, Hankook said its airless tire is 95% recyclable.
While certainly innovative, Hankook's version is hardly the first to tread into airless-tire territory. Several major tire manufacturers have developed or are developing their own, though none has yet taken off.Related
News Editor Matt Schmitz is a veteran Chicago journalist indulging his curiosity for all things auto while helping to inform car shoppers. Email Matt