Imagining what comes next for tires has made for some fascinating design concepts, from airless tweels to shape-shifting hoops able to adapt to the weather. The latest funky designs to receive recognition come from Kumho, which has won an International Design Excellence Award for its Smasher and Sealant concept tires.
As you might have guessed, the Smasher is the rough-and-ready looking tire on the left. Designed to provide sure-footed traction off-road, it's fitted with suction plates to create a vacuum between the tire and the road, allowing the car to traverse steep slopes without fear of sliding backwards.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
Working with the suction cups is a set of grinder-shaped blocks designed to crush any uneven ground with the potential to damage the tire. For anyone wondering where the name came from, there's your answer.
If the Smasher concept is the brawn in the Kumho family, the Sealant is undoubtedly the brains. At the moment, getting a puncture usually means an expensive trip to the repair shop. Many modern cars go without a full-sized spare tire, and run flats will last longer than an average tire, but they still go flat and need repairing eventually.
The other issue with run flats comes down to ride quality, which is often ruined by the stiff sidewalls needed to carry a leaking tire to the repairers.
Meanwhile the Sealant, which could be the title of a 1970s detective show, is designed to heal itself after a puncture. When the tire is penetrated, a gel automatically fills the hole and lets the driver carry on as normal, meaning fewer trips to the repair shop without sacrificing ride comfort.
The Sealant's IDEA award joins recognition from Red Dot and Good Design (Japan & Korea).