Occasionally my job seems more like fun than work. And, today was one of those days as I attended an Automotive Press Association luncheon hosted by Michelin in celebration of its Uniroyal brand’s Giant Tire 's 50th birthday. We all got a chance to not only stand outside the 80-ft ,12-ton tire, but we also got to go inside it. Some of you baby boomers may remember that this tire started life as a Ferris wheel at the 1964 New York World’s Fair.
This got me thinking about the impact of tires in vehicle performance. This was something I paid zero attention to until I invested in snow tires for my Honda Civic. Much to my children’s worry, I now believe myself to be invincible in winter driving. While other cars fishtail and grasp for traction, I steadily zoom ahead with total control. Now, I love to talk about aggressive tread design and what a difference it makes. I’m a believer!
Likely most of you don’t know that Uniroyal began life as U.S. Rubber, which in 1916 was the company that put rubber-soled Keds on our feet. During World War II, U.S. Rubber factories were focused on the production of war goods, producing military truck and airplane tires as well as canvas-top, rubber-soled boots for soldiers and marines serving in tropical environments. I love the idea that whether on foot, flying or driving, it was all about where the rubber meets the road.
Obviously tires play an important, yet under-appreciated role, in our driving lives. If there wasn’t a performance difference in tire design, there wouldn’t be so many tire manufacturers each offering dozens of styles. And, how do these tire engineers know the nuances that go into tread depth and pattern? Luckily, today we have the benefits of computers using analysis software that allows engineers to simulate the performance of tread design, as well as other design features. And, even the various rubber compounds used in the tires can be simulated to see how well a particular rubber may react under different conditions, such as cold weather versus hot weather.
So, with tread design making such an impact on performance, perhaps I should pay more attention to my rubber-soled workout/walking shoes. It would be awesome if I could find a style that infuses me with the same sense of invincibility as my snow tires. Just don't tell my kids.
Served in various capacities within capital equipment engineering, robotics, project management, sales and marketing.
L&A collaborates with Industry Scope, Prior to L&A Nancy was Vice President of Public Relations for a full service B2B agency.