Automotive

Hankook rolls out latest i-Flex airless tire on Hyundai concept vehicle

Hankook rolls out latest i-Fle...
Hankook showed the latest iteration of its i-Flex airless tire at CES 2022
Hankook showed the latest iteration of its i-Flex airless tire at CES 2022
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Hankook showed the latest iteration of its i-Flex airless tire at CES 2022
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Hankook showed the latest iteration of its i-Flex airless tire at CES 2022
Hankook's i-Flex airless tire adorned Hyundai's L7 concept vehicle at CES 2022
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Hankook's i-Flex airless tire adorned Hyundai's L7 concept vehicle at CES 2022
Hankook says airless tires are ideal for autonomous vehicles, such as Hyundai's L7 concept
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Hankook says airless tires are ideal for autonomous vehicles, such as Hyundai's L7 concept
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Anyone who has had to change a tire on the side of a busy road, possibly in the sweltering heat or pouring rain, will be longing for the day when flats are a thing of the past. Hankook has been working to make such a future a reality for over a decade now, and has used CES 2022 to show the latest version of its airless i-Flex concept tire.

To showcase the tire at CES, Hankook teamed up with fellow countryman Hyundai, fitting them to four large Plug & Drive (PnD) modules on the L7, a micro-mobility concept with infinite wheel rotation capabilities allowing it to change directions instantly, even in restricted spaces. As such the tire isn’t sized for cars, but was designed in a smaller 10-inch format tailored for such applications.

With a diameter of 400 mm (15.7 in) and width of 105 mm (4.1 in), the concept non-pneumatic tire (NPT) was developed based on biomimetic studies and testing to maximize shock absorption and load-bearing capabilities. The result is a multi-layer interlocking spoke design inspired by the cellular structure of living organisms that provides support in three dimensions for greater shock absorption, while hexagonal and tetragonal cell structures of different stiffnesses combine to provide stability under loads.

Hankook's i-Flex airless tire adorned Hyundai's L7 concept vehicle at CES 2022
Hankook's i-Flex airless tire adorned Hyundai's L7 concept vehicle at CES 2022

The tread also takes the L7’s ability to turn on a dime and freely switch directions into account, with a c-shaped concave tread profile designed to ensure maximum surface contact with the road to enhance safety. The pattern also mirrors the honeycomb design of the body of the tire.

In addition to making punctures – and the accidents they cause – a thing of the past, Hankook highlights the fact airless tires would be low maintenance, with no more need for tire pressure monitoring or pumping up flats, making them ideal for autonomous vehicles.

Unfortunately, Hankook hasn’t given a timeline for when you might be driving a car riding on its airless tires, saying that it is “continuing its research and development to make further improvements.” However, airless tires seem an inevitability, with competitors Michelin and Goodyear also making inroads.

Sources: Hankook, Hyundai

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14 comments
14 comments
Spud Murphy
Tyre makers have been promising airless tyres for over 20 years now, we're still waiting, and probably will be for another 20 years...
paul314
They seem great for environments where nothing will get into all of those exposed holes.
minivini
Spud - they’re available for certain segments. You can get them for all manners of tractors and some commercial applications, just not cars yet. It’s pretty smart, the way they’re doing it. Make sure they’re well vetted before going to the extreme expense of DOT, IIHS, and NHTSA certification.
guzmanchinky
Do those holes look like they could easily fill up with dirt or small rocks? The other design seems more open.
Jesse Robert Allen
by the time they get them out in quantity we will all be flying point to point.
Kpar
The big question for passenger car use is- what does ambient temperature do to ride quality?
Pete0097
I would suggest that they do a few sets for NASCAR and sponsor a race with only their tires on half the cars.
TechGazer
They seem to be proposing it for uses where tire failures 'in the rain' are unlikely. Are flat tires a problem in warehouses or office buildings (mail delivery bots)?
Nobody
I could imagine mud and gravel being trapped in the sidewalls and being flung out like bullets driving down the highway.
John Durham
These could be the ultimate 'space-saver' spare tires if they can be made with about 3" tread face since you would never have to worry about whether your spare has air in it. I know I want one.......17" wheel size please.
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