The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company has rolled out new commercial tire technology to provide improved fuel efficiency on three different tires for tractor-trailers.
The new Fuel Max Technology, which includes steer, drive and trailer tires, aims to provide up to 4% improved truck fuel economy when all three tire configurations are in use.
“With fuel prices hovering around US $3 a gallon, conserving fuel is on everyone’s mind,” said Steve McClellan, vice-president, commercial tire systems. “We enhanced fuel economy in our platform of linehaul tires. With Fuel Max Technology, we have blended fuel efficiency with long tread life and excellent performance.”
A few days before unveiling the new fuel-efficient tires at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas on Aug. 24, the tire company held a Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) test demonstration for a group of truck writers at the company’s sprawling proving grounds in San Angelo, Tex.
Under the early morning Texas sun, two International trucks with loaded trailers set out on a 40-mile trip, outfitted with standard Goodyear tires. The first three runs on the 8-mile course set the standard to gauge the fuel economy of the Fuel Max tires.
Equipped with removal fuel tanks, which are weighed before and after every run, the trucks circled the course on cruise control at 65mph. Running at full throttle, the trucks hit every gear on the 10-speed transmissions.
After setting a baseline standard in the first three runs, the test truck had its tires switched from the standard Goodyear tires to the new Fuel Max tires at the steer, drive and trailer positions. The control truck remained outfitted with the standard tires and the two trucks set out for another three runs.
Development for the Fuel Max Technology revolved around rolling resistance. In analyzing rolling resistance, Goodyear found the tread design, nonskid depth and tread compound accounted for more than half of a truck tire’s rolling resistance.
“The use of innovative tread designs, along with advanced compound and manufacturing technologies, allowed us to drive improved fuel economy while maintaining a low cost-per-mile for our customers,” noted McClellan.
Comparing the energy a human exerts from walking in sand to walking along a boardwalk, Goodyear engineers set out to create a rubber compound that would create less rolling resistance and ultimately use less fuel.
In just under one year of development, Goodyear engineers developed the new fuel-efficient tires with an improved cool-running rubber compound and unique tread designs for each tire position to encourage uniform wear. The tread design, combined with a closed shoulder design, helps to further promote even wear.
Company officials noted that with every innovation to improve a product in one area there is the possibility of trade-offs in other areas; and by utilizing tread technology, Goodyear is hoping to mitigate those tradeoffs.
Offering what company officials say are comparable wear rates to current Goodyear tires and no trade off in miles driven, the new Fuel Max tires will be priced at about a 4% to 5% premium compared to standard Goodyear tires.
While company officials are citing up to a 4% hike in fuel economy with the new tires, the actual SAE test demonstration on the San Angelo proving grounds resulted in a 7.92% improvement in fuel economy compared to standard Goodyear tires.
“The test showed what our tires are capable of achieving in a controlled test environment,” said Jon Bellissimo, director of technology for commercial tires with Goodyear. “Since no one drives at constant speed on flat terrain for a 10-hour shift, Goodyear engineers adjusted the SAE results to 4% to estimate real-world conditions, such as varying driver inputs, road conditions and terrain and truck aerodynamics.”
Goodyear tires with Fuel Max Technology include the Unisteel G395 LHS steer tire, Unisteel G305 LHD drive tire and Unisteel G316 LHT trail tire in standard (11R22.5) and low profile (295/75R22.5 and 285/75R24.5) sizes.
Goodyear is also offering UniCircle and precure retreading with the Fuel Max Technology; although the fuel economy results will not be quite as high as original Fuel Max tires, some improvements will be realized, says the tire manufacturer.
“Operators can put existing casing to work utilizing our new technology,” said McClellan. “And because retreads match the same innovative tread designs of our new Fuel Max tires, that’s a huge advantage for our customers.”
Bellissimo said improving a truck’s 6 mpg to 6.24 mpg with Fuel Max Technology saves up to $2,100 in fuel per year, assuming the truck is driven 120,000 miles per year and fuel costs $2.85 per gallon.
The full line of Fuel Max tires will be available by October and the company’s Web site, www.goodyear.com/truck, has been equipped with a fuel savings calculator for fleets to check the benefits of Fuel Max tires based on their own driving needs.