Tyre design: the perfect balance of form and function

220214010-MICHELIN Pilot Sport CUP 2 R, a tyre custom made to fit the new Mercedes-AMG ONE-yasmarina-michelin-artwork-sx048-v001-sc-cs-ecirgb

Car Design News investigates the principles of tyre design and what room for innovation remains 

The tyre is the only point of contact between the car and the road. Without it, the car cannot drive (not without a dazzling array of sparks from spinning-rim-on-asphalt).

Tyre grip has perhaps the greatest impact on braking and steering, not to mention ensuring the car whips off the mark at pace without losing traction. Tyres are inherently safety-related globs of rubber that are used, abused and replaced in much the same way as a set of brake pads. They are boring.

Why then, should enthusiasts care so much about the way they look?

Speaking with suppliers, OEMs and indepenedent design houses, the hierarchy of priorities quickly becomes evident: even the most conservative of brands would opt for a luminous orange set of treads for their best seller if it meant better safety. 

“While aesthetics plays a significant role in tyre design, design choices should never compromise the tyre’s overall safety performance, such as the ability to provide safe traction on the road, durability as well as sustainability aspects and noise emissions,” observes Peter Bogenschuetz, head of industrial design at Continental Tires.

Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary

Lamborghini Countach with gargantuan rear treads 

“The goal is to provide solutions that will have no negative impact on the performances of the tire. Safety first,” agrees Matthieu Bonnamour, head of industrial design at Michelin. 

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