Air filled tires or also known as pneumatic tires have been used for our vehicles since the first vehicle was invented. From then on, there are a lot of improvements done on them to make them better. John Dunlop, for example, invented them to prevent his kids from getting headache while riding his bike. Hankook, tries to make a better tire by exploring on the idea of airless tire or non-pneumatic tire or NPT.
The difference between airless tire and air-filled tire is the material that the tire made from. Airless tires are made from deformable solid materials such as rubber whereas air-filled tires are made from rubber filled with pressurized air; however, both tires are used as shock absorber which also able to support the vehicle’s weight.
Airless tires are already in production. Michelin is selling Tweel for agricultural vehicles whereas Polaris sells ATV with NPTs since late 2013. Hankook is currently testing its own NPTs for vehicles that require more than low speed ruggedness such as passenger vehicle. Hankook’s NPTs are tested for durability, hardness, stability, ability to take high speed turns as well as ability to maintain their integrity at high speeds up to 130 kilometres per hour. From the test result, NPTs are proven to match conventional tires in terms of performance.
It seems like Hankook will not release NPTs anytime soon as the NPTs are required to a lot of safety testing before they are allowed to be released on the road.