Hankook Tire's says its enfren range of low rolling-resistance tires deliver significant fuel savings and environmental benefits without consumers having to upgrade their car.
The silica compound enfren tire achieved a 5.1% saving over conventional steel belt radials in a recent "Fuel Economy Challenge" in Australia. Two Hyundai i30 SLX CRDi hatches, identical apart from the tires, were driven 382km in the city and on motorways in a range of conditions. The Hankook enfren equipped car used 5.5 liters per 100 km while the conventional tire used 5.8 liters per 100km.
Motoring journalist and industry engineering consultant John Cadogan, who co-ordinated and monitored the "real world" challenge said: “Rolling resistance accounts for as much as 20 per cent of all automotive fuel consumed on earth. Advances in low rolling-resistance technology like that on the Hankook enfren offer a profound positive environmental benefit, as well as the capacity to extend the viability of the world's known oil reserves."
"Very few things which genuinely improve fuel economy can be retro-fitted to cars that are already in service, however this test proves that low rolling resistance tyres such as Hankook's enfren delivers savings in both fuel consumption and therefore also in emissions, without owners needing to upgrade to a more modern car," he said.
According to official Korean Automotive Institute testing, fitting Hankook enfren tires to a car can reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 4.1 g/km. Over a ten year life span, a car with enfren tires will emit up to 820kg less CO2 than the same car on conventional tires.
Low rolling-resistance tires are not all plain sailing, but the technology is improving. According to the Consumer Reports blog, "consumers should understand that as a rule, a 10-percent reduction of rolling resistance can improve vehicle fuel economy by only one to two percent. But typically consumers purchasing low rolling resistance tires should not expect a huge windfall savings in fuel costs. Also, some tires trade-off key performance features like tread-life and wet-grip for low rolling resistance."
"But technology is at the crossroads where some tire manufacturers are closing-in on breaking down those compromises."
Independent European testing by TUV Europe resulted in the Hankook enfren showing a rolling-resistance coefficient of 8.32 compared with a conventional tire of the same with a coefficient of 10.54 - a 21 per cent reduction in rolling-resistance coefficient.
Hankook says the effectiveness of the design is in part down to the use of 100 per cent pure silica, special bonding agents and mixing technology which provide even silica dispersal and a better overall performance.
Hankook Tire is the seventh-largest tire manufacturer in the world. The company recently announced an ongoing investment into researching and developing more eco-friendly tire technology and design totaling at least US$20.8 million annually.
The enfren low rolling-resistance tire is currently only available in Korea and Australia but is expected to be available outside of these markets soon.