The 2011 Chevrolet Volt has captured the public’s attention since its introduction as a concept in January of 2007. Nearly every step of the plug-in e-car’s transformation from autoshow darling to production vehicles has been chronicled with the rabid enthusiasm usually associated with Paris Hilton sightings. Adding a bit of fuel to this fire, Goodyear recently announced that its Assurance Fuel Max tire will be the rolling stock for the Chevy Volt when the car hits showrooms in November of 2010. Furthermore, the Fuel Max tire is now available to help improve mileage for many already in-production vehicles.
GM engineers needed to choose a tire with ultra low rolling resistance to help the Chevy Volt eek out the maximum distance from every plug-in charge. The Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max delivers this characteristic by engineering the tire’s construction at the molecular level. The Fuel Max helps contribute one mile to the Chevy Volt‘s 40-miles of electric-only range.
Many fuel-efficient tires today depend on replacing carbon black material with silica in the tread compound, either in part or in total, to minimize rolling resistance. In the past, these tires tended to drive with stiffer ride characteristics and more modest levels of mechanical grip.
The Fuel Max addresses these shortcomings. At the heart of Goodyear’s new tread is a blend of polymers, which increase their selective reactivity with the silica filler, to help improve silica dispersion and to enhance the overall physical properties of the tread. In non-engineering speak, this means that the new polymers Goodyear developed help the Fuel Max roll more easily and with less heat (cased by the constant flexing of the tire as it rolls). This helps the tire conform to and grip the pavement better and with less harshness.
Compared to its own standard Assurance brand tire, the Fuel Max provides 27 percent less rolling resistance. This equates to a four-percent improvement in highway fuel economy. Gains in city fuel economy are lower. In essence, this greater fuel efficiency means drivers can save 2,600 miles worth of gas over the 65,000-mile life of the tires. When looked at in terms of dollars and cents, the tires can literally save drivers hundreds of dollars because of the improved fuel economy. The Fuel Max tire structure and tread design is based on Goodyear’s existing Assurance tires, a design launched in 2008. The Assurance features two unique tread zones. The Dry Zone, with strong shoulder blocks, helps enhance handling and grip for confident maneuvering on dry pavement. The Wet Tread Zone in the center features Dual AquaChannel Grooves to help evacuate water from the tread face for great wet traction. Plus, Zig-Zagging Micro Grooves and Center Tread Notches help grip the road in rain or light snow. (Obviously, marketers had a hand in naming the areas of the tires.)
The new Assurance Fuel Max tire is available in 27 different sizes. This covers approximately about 80 percent of the auto tire segment.