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Boom in SUV popularity brings technology opportunities for Goodyear

The growth in SUV and crossover sales across Europe has been one of the car industry’s success stories. The elevated driving position and the mix of hatchback practicality with all-terrain ability has made SUVs a hit with drivers and families alike.

Many SUV owners choose these increasingly popular vehicles with the confidence that they can handle a wide range of conditions and environments.

Goodyear says the growth in SUVs has brought new opportunities to showcase its tyre technology, as Thomas Gesenhoff, technical project manager, explains: “Tyres such as our Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV are specially designed for these vehicles. We take a different design approach to conventional car tyre development.

“SUV tyres need to be more robust and versatile but still deliver the dynamic feel and performance demanded by drivers moving from saloons and hatchbacks.

“The stronger sidewall and belt material in the construction not only helps longevity, but it also provides precise steering and dynamics. This is important in a vehicle that has a higher centre of gravity than a regular car. To help cope with the additional weight of an SUV, tyres are typically larger giving a greater air volume.

“To provide all-terrain versatility, the increased size of an SUV tyre provides more gripping edges. This also gives a thicker layer of more robust lower rubber, which combined with a ply cover that’s twice as strong as the car tyre gives SUV drivers the durability they demand.”

The all-purpose versatility of SUVs and crossovers means owners expect them to cover everything from business to family and leisure duties. This results in consumers demanding higher mileage tyres.

Gesenhoff explains how Goodyear mets these challenges: “The EfficientGrip 2 SUV has a 25 per cent improvement in mileage versus its predecessor, thanks to Goodyear’s mileage plus technology, which offers high tread elasticity and flexibility, resulting in less fractures from rough road conditions over a wide range of temperatures.”

Goodyear’s focus on developing distinct designs and technologies for SUV tyres has been validated by a resounding win in a recent comparison of 10 SUV tyres. Auto Bild allrad magazine declared the Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV as top tyre after a test of performance on wet and dry roads as well as the type of off-road surfaces such as sand, gravel, grass and mud that the typical SUV driver will encounter.

The Goodyear EfficientGrip 2 SUV was the only tyre in the Auto Bild allrad test to score in the top band in each of the magazine’s 15 test categories. The testers particularly focused on EfficientGrip 2 SUV’s outstanding wet braking performance. This comes from a high number of longer gripping edges combined with lower compound stiffness, which improves grip on wet surfaces. The larger ribs at the centre of the tread mean a greater contact area for short dry braking distances, too.

The off-road performance is particularly important for people who purchase SUVs for their towing ability. Whilst many SUV drivers won’t be wanting the hardcore off-road performance of a traditional 4×4, they do require traction when towing caravans or horseboxes on wet grass or gravel. That’s where the versatility of a bespoke SUV tyre such as the EfficientGrip 2 SUV helps.

Goodyear’s EfficientGrip 2 SUV is part of a growing range including the Eagle F1 Asymmetric 3 SUV for high-performance vehicles such as the Porsche Macan and Range Rover Sport, and the Eagle F1 Asymmetric SUV AT providing all-terrain and all-season ultra-high performance. With many electric vehicles adopting a higher SUV-style design, this is an important development area for Goodyear.

“Looking to the future, the SUV share of the overall car market will grow as manufacturers launch more new models in each size segment. For SUV drivers, it is important to ensure the dynamic versatility of the vehicle is enhanced by the capability of the tyres. That’s why we are putting so much focus on the specific tire needs of SUVs and Crossovers,” concludes Gesenhoff.