From the engine to the exhaust and everything in between, fleet managers need to ensure that all the components of their vehicles are running at optimal performance. This is necessary not only for driver safety, but also to keep maintenance costs at a minimum. After all, when it comes to vehicles, small issues that are left unseen to can quickly snowball into large problems that require expensive repairs and days or weeks off the road.
Over the years, many manufacturers have sought to improve various aspects of the automobile, but one part that has largely been ignored is the humble tyre. Sure, the material's a little more robust and offers greater fuel economy than the models of yesteryear, but by and large tyres have remained largely unchanged – until now.
iFlex passed its ride and handling tests with flying colours.
Introducing iFlex – an airless tyre
Earlier this month, Hankook Tire, a South Korean manufacturer, announced that its latest non-pneumatic tyre (NPT) dubbed Hankook iFlex had passed its ride and handling tests with flying colours. As you might have guessed from its name, what makes these tyres stand out is the fact that they do not require air pressure whatsoever.
Comprised of environmentally friendly materials, the iFlex has been in development since 2011. Hankook Tire is no stranger to innovative automotive solutions, with four other NPT concepts under its belt. The iFlex is unique, however, in that the company has put a lot of emphasis on creating a tyre that produces all the practical benefits of its traditional air-filled counterparts while improving how it performs at high speeds.
After putting the iFlex through a gauntlet of experiments to test its durability, hardness, stability, speed and slalom ability, the company has happily concluded that its latest NPT is able to match the performance of conventional tyres.
Why is this good news for fleet managers?
Traditional tyres naturally lose 1-2 psi per month and under-inflated tyres can cost you an extra 8 cents per litre on petrol, according to figures released by Energywise. iFlex tyres have no air, which means, when used in conjunction with a business fuel card, fleet managers could potentially stand to save significant amounts of money.
In addition to greater fuel efficiency, the hardy nature of NPTS could minimise the cost of tyre maintenance and repairs, and completely eliminate the risk of time-consuming flat tyres.
The iFlex tyres won't be hitting stores for some time yet, and Hankook isn't giving any hints about a possible release date. Nevertheless, it's exciting news for fleet managers across New Zealand and around the world who are keeping a finger on the pulse of developments in the auto industry.