SAN ANGELO, Texas – The phrase “It’s always bigger in Texas” took on a whole new meaning after Goodyear’s 2015 Tire Technology Showcase earlier this week.
The showcase was spread out across more than 7,000 acres at the colossal Goodyear Proving Grounds in San Angelo, Texas and was attended by customers and industry journalists from across North America. The Proving Grounds was founded back in 1944 and is the largest of six global facilities Goodyear uses to test its tires.
The day was used to show off the company’s latest long-haul tires, the Fuel Max LHS and the Fuel Max LHD G505D. The company claims they are the most fuel-efficient steer and drive long-haul tire combination in North America.
“Technology in tires is advancing like IT technology,” said Brian Buckham, general manager, commercial marketing product and innovation, Goodyear.
He explained the LHS and the LHD tires contain four rubber compounds in the tread area, with a sub-tread that helps reduce rolling resistance, as well as a cushion that helps adhere the tread package to the belt. There is also a tread shoulder compound that helps prevent scuffing and tearing.
Goodyear officials said they are confident in the feedback they have received from customers that have made the switch to the Fuel Max tires.
“One of our customers made the comment that for as much money as (they were) saving on fuel, with the super fuel-efficient tires, they can buy brand new tires three or four times a year,” Buckham said. “In 2013, an average fleet in America was running 120,000 miles on a tractor, and if you do the math at 65 cents, every tractor is buying about $78,000 on fuel a year. And if we can save you 1% on fuel costs that’s about $800 per truck per year. And we’re trying to save you a little bit more than that with the tires and it’ll start adding up.”
Buckham added there are a number of ways to calculate how fuel is being saved with the tires, so the media and customers in attendance were invited to go onto the grounds with Goodyear representatives to watch several fuel-saving demonstrations in action.
SAE fuel economy test
Two identical trucks get ready for the 120-mile SAE fuel economy test. One is equipped with Goodyear tires, the other with a Tier 1 competitor.
One of the ways Goodyear demonstrated how fuel-efficient the tires are was through the industry-standard SAE Type II fuel economy test. Trucking journalists watched as two identical International ProStars hooked up to weight-matched trailers (80,000 lbs). Both trucks were identical except the tires, Goodyear officials claimed. One was equipped with Tier 1 competitive tires on the steers and drives and the other was fitted with the Goodyear Fuel Max tires on the steers and drives.
Normally, said Buckham, the test is run on the company’s eight-mile track but because of the other tests going on that day, the trucks were forced to go out on the public roads just outside the Proving Grounds.
While journalists and customers went on to view other tests on the grounds, the two identical trucks went onto the public highway for the test. They travelled from San Angelo to Abilene, Texas and back, making it a 120-mile round trip test.
Clint Carrell, the testing supervisor at Goodyear said the trucks would be driving the same speed, 65 mph, and that fuel meters were installed on both tanks to monitor fuel consumption.
At the end of the 120-mile trip, both trucks arrived back at the testing grounds and the data was presented to the attendees.
“When you get down to the end of the math, you save 3.3% of fuel,” said Buckham. “That’s $2,200 of fuel per year per truck.”
In designing the new Fuel Max tires, Goodyear said it wanted to maximize performance by not sacrificing tread life to improve fuel economy. To test the rolling resistance of the new tires, the company performed a coast-down test on its eight-mile track.
Goodyear proved that its new Fuel Max tires blows past the competition in a coast down test performed at its Proving Grounds in Texas earlier this week.
The demonstration was performed with two identical fully loaded (80,000 lbs) Volvo tractor-trailers running the same speed (25 mph) along the track, until they reached a marker, about a mile-and-a-half from completing the full eight miles.
“When the driver reaches that point, he’ll put it in neutral and you’ll see the truck coast down the track,” said Andrea Rusell, assistant brand manager, commercial, Goodyear. “The goal is to coast the furthest.”
The only change in the trucks was the steer and drive tires. One had Goodyear’s LHS and LHD tires, while the other was equipped with Tier 1 competitive tires.
Goodyear G316 tires were on both trailers to keep the playing field level, so the results are for the steer and drive tires.
In both demonstrations (which featured at least one trucking journalist alongside the driver) the truck with the Fuel Max tires coasted further than the truck with the competitive tires proving that the LHS And LHD tires had a lower rolling resistance and will help contribute to fuel savings, Goodyear claimed.
Goodyear officials said the tires surpassed all of their competitors on average in the coast-down tests (not seen on this particular day).
In addition, Buckham said that the new Fuel Max LHS tires is 9% better in rolling resistance than the previous steer tire Goodyear produced and even has improved tread life.
“So, we were able to do two things with this new tire,” he said. “ We didn’t just sell out for rolling resistance and effect the other performance characteristics of the tire.”
The company also announced it would be rolling out a matching retread to the Fuel Max Fuel Max LHD G505D tire soon.
“It will be the lowest rolling resistance drive retread we have in our portfolio, replacing our 305 which used to be the lowest,” added Buckham.
Wet stopping distance test
During the wet stopping test, Goodyear beat the competition by stopping sooner than its competitive tires on a slippery polished concrete. Here, the blue pylons represent Goodyear’s stopping distance, while the yellow and green pylons represent the competitors.
Finally, to flaunt the advantages of the Fuel Max tires, Goodyear showed attendees of the tire technology day how they held up in a wet stopping distance test.
Two identical trucks were set up first on the dry end of track. One truck had Tier 1 competitive steer tires and drive tries, while the other was outfitted with the Fuel Max LHS and LHD tires.
One after another, the trucks accelerated to 25 mph, and braked hard once they reached the marker on the wet surface of the pavement. Once completely stopped the trucks front end was marked to compare the tires stopping ability.
Goodyear conducts the wet stopping test on a slick polished concrete that is equivalent to driving on black ice.
The wet surface the trucks would be braking on is very slick according to Jason Stine of Goodyear.
“It is a slippery polished concrete that is similar to being on a sheet of ice with a thin layer of water on it,” he said.
He added that this is a standard test all commercial tire makers use.
Each truck completed the test three times and all three times the truck with the Goodyear Fuel Max tires stopped before the truck outfitted with the competitive tires.
Stine said it has run similar demonstrations with other tire brands as well and the Goodyear tires also outperformed them on the wet track.
“We saw distances as high as 75 and 80 feet before on average,” added Stine. “There are different variables too, like a driver could hit the brakes a little sooner or later, that’s why we have multiple runs and take an average.”
The tires are optimized for traction and optimized for fuel efficiency, he added.
The tires on the back of the OTR vehicle is the second largest Goodyear produces. It is almost 13 feet tall.
In keeping with the Texas theme of bigger is better, Goodyear ended the day by displaying its second largest super-sized tires at its Proving Grounds.
The giant tires – nearly 13 ft. tall – used for mining and other construction applications were fit onto the company’s off-track-road test truck that weighs a whopping 200 tons and is powered by a diesel-over-electric motor.
Just one of those tires – the 5380 – costs more than $50,000.
Sonia Straface is the assistant editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. She graduated from Ryerson University's journalism program in 2013 and enjoys writing about health and wellness and HR issues surrounding the transportation industry. Follow her on Twitter: @SoniaStraface. All posts by Sonia Straface