We are investing in a state-of-the-art dynamic driving simulator in order to develop our premium tyres for the original equipment business even more efficiently, sustainably, and precisely in line with customer requirements in the future. Our high-tech installation will go into operation in mid-2022 at our largest European tyre test center, Contidrom in Wietze near Hanover. It is a Driver-in-the-loop simulator (DIL) that calculates exact driving dynamics parameters of our tyres and those of the respective test vehicle. Thanks to its high mobility, the simulator can provide our professional test drivers with subjective driving impressions, just like tyre tests on our test track. Our test drivers can experience new tyre developments in the most diverse virtual test scenarios and driving situations.
Our new driving simulator brings significant benefits for tyre development – and thus for you, our customers. When decisive development steps and the associated test arrangements are shifted to the virtual world, this saves time, costs and valuable resources in the real world. The logistical effort of a wide variety of physical tests, for example, is significantly reduced because crucial parameters can be checked in the simulator. This is because the simulator is fed with the data of the particular vehicle model for which the new tyre is being developed. This is supplemented by our data on rubber compound, tyre architecture and tread design.
Each test cycle completed in the driving simulator instead of on real roadways means fewer test tyres that need to be manufactured. The investment in the new test technology thus also contributes to our extensive sustainability efforts. Among other things, Our goal is to be the most progressive tyre manufacturer in terms of environmental and socially responsible business practices by 2030. To achieve this, we are investing significantly in innovative technologies and processes along the entire value chain. Until now, the final tuning of tyres to real-life application scenarios always required the construction of a large number of test tyres. The aim is to have to build significantly fewer such prototypes in the future thanks to the simulator.
The topic of sustainability has been high on our agenda for some time. Experts from a wide variety of fields are working closely together in research and development to make the tyre of the future even more energy efficient and eco-friendly during all stages of its life.
We call into question every tyre component and replace it with more environmentally compatible materials where possible.
One aspect of our activities that has caught the public’s imagination is our “dandelion tyre” which we have named Taraxgum. We are cooperating with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology, IME.
The aim of our long-term Taraxagum project is to provide sufficient natural rubber from dandelion crops, rather than from rubber plantations, for use in the production of two-wheeler, passenger and commercial vehicle tyres, as well as other vehicle parts made of rubber.
The dandelions can even be cultivated on land that is unsuitable for food crops, so that creating “plantations beside the tyre plants” in Central Europe makes both economic and ecological sense. The short transportation distances mean a substantial drop in CO2 emissions; monocultures of rubber trees in rainforest regions can be reduced; given that between 10 and 30 percent of the rubber in a car tyre comes from the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis), the benefits soon become very clear.
By 2021 we will have invested almost 35 million euros in the project, moving taraxagum from laboratory to mainstream manufacturing.
We are already making great strides with the development of our specialist Taraxagum lab in Anklam and the launch in 2019 of our first serial production tyre using the taraxagum technology– The Urban Taraxagum bicycle tyre
We have also started to manufacture initial test tyres for cars and trucks. It is clear there is a long road ahead before this technology can be mainstream, however it may well be the start of a very bright sustainable future for tyres.