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Pirelli rolls Goodyear concept tyre

Horse shoes: Pirelli is working closely with high-end car-manufacturers to homologate tyres for specific models, including the new Ferrari 488 GTB and Tesla's electric vehicles.

Manufacturer collaboration the future for Pirelli, not radical concepts


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12 Apr 2016


PIRELLI has taken a swipe at Goodyear’s 360 Geneva show tyre, saying it is not convinced the radical spherical concept has the potential to evolve into a production version and instead, the Italian brand is sticking to its strategy of concentrating on more realistic technologies.

The radical Goodyear show tyre requires electromagnetic forces to hold it in place instead of an axle and suspension assembly, but speaking at the 2016 P Zero launch in Portugal, Pirelli global operations general manager Gregorio Borgo told GoAuto he was not convinced the concept works under the loads of high-speed driving.

“I really would like to see the way they are going to market this, because I understand it is very easy to park the car in the horizontal way, I want to see how does the tyre perform at 300km/h on the motorway… how does it work on the track?” he said.

Instead of technology that may be made available in about half a century, Mr Borgo said the company has a focus on closer horizons, including its Cyber Tyre telemetry system and collaborative partnerships with vehicle manufacturers.

“We are working on the medium-term future and I think on the Cyber for sure.”

The Cyber Tyre uses an electronic sensor embedded in the structure of a P Zero, which relays information about the tyre’s contact patch to the vehicle stability system for improved safety and dynamics.

“We are looking at five to 10 years, not 50 years. One way to do this is with the partnership with the most prestigious car-makers.”

Pirelli head of passenger car research and development Alessandro Ascanelli explained that the partnerships it is forging with various car-makers allowed access to future technologies that it was not previously privy to.

While the Goodyear 360 concept and Cyber Tyre are examples of a tyre-maker presenting a new idea to a car brand, Pirelli says working with the new technologies presented by the car-maker is just as important in developing new products such as the new P Zero.

“The fact that we are working with the OEMs is giving us a vision of the future,” said Mr Ascanelli. “When we were developing this tyre we were aware of the cars that were coming in the next two years. We know which trend of cars will be on the market in 2020. It’s a big advantage.

“We are really glad to have the opportunity to discuss specific performances that the car will deliver to the customer. You never stop learning. It’s incredible.”

Pirelli has been making “made to measure” tyres for specific car models for 30 years and with 60 homologations under its belt it is the leader in model-specific tyres.

While nothing is yet signed and sealed, Mr Borgo said that the company was likely to homologate the standard fitment tyre for the runaway success Tesla Model 3.

“I think we will try to do it because it would make a lot of sense,” he said. “I think this is the future of the car. Either the hybrid or the pure electric car.”

Mr Borgo concluded by saying the association with forward thinking manufacturers such as Tesla and its involvement in motorsport sends a message to customers that Pirelli is serious about future technology.

“For us it is important (that) one of the customers we are becoming more and more partnered with is Tesla.

“Tesla is brilliant. It’s important to have the partnership with this kind of player, and then of course to be concentrated on the motorsport activity. I think the innovation is coming from this too.

“Then if the spherical works we will copy it.”

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