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Tire makers getting a grip on rolling resistance ratings

Tires specially formulated for a low rolling resistance can reduce gasoline consumption by 5 to 7% and are the fastest-growing part of the tire sector. But they also typically sacrifice other qualities to get this kind of performance.

Progress is being made, however, toward reducing the tradeoffs that are associated with tire stopping distance on wet pavement. Specialty chemical supplier Lanxess has developed a prototype tire that it claims provides both low rolling resistance and lots of grip on wet pavement.

The tire is dubbed the AA Concept and is named for the double-A rating Lanxess says it would earn under new tire labeling regulations that go into effect in November in Europe. (A for rolling resistance, A for stopping distance. An A-rated tire needs 18 to 21 m less to stop from a speed of 80 km/hr compared to an F-rated tire.) The U.S. is scheduled to get its own version of tire labeling in 2014.

Key to the tire's performance is the use of solution styrene butadiene rubber which is mainly used in the tread compound where it helps both reduce rolling resistance and improve grip on wet roads.

Low rolling resistance tires, however, tend to be noisy. No word on how the AA Concept performs in this metric. And low-rolling-resistance tires can also be a bit pricey. In that regard, Lanxess devised a new fuel savings calculator that helps drivers figure out how long it will take for the tires to pay for themselves.

The free LANXESS app for smartphones, tablets and web-enabled PCs is available from both the Apple Appstore, and at http://app.green-mobility.com

Lanxess, http://lanxess.com/en/corporate/products-solutions/aa-concept-tire/

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