Yokohama Rubber's Finned Tires Enhance Fuel Efficiency, Reduce Drag & Lift

Tire aerodynamics technology is set to soar now that tire manufacturer Yokohama Rubber Co., Ltd. is testing finned tires. The unobtrusive but effective fins help reduce aerodynamic drag and lift for any vehicle they're installed on, thereby enhancing fuel efficiency and reducing the vehicle's carbon footprint.

As displayed at the 44th Tokyo Motor Show 2015 held from October 28th at the Tokyo Big Sight convention and exhibition center, the tires look rather ordinary... until one gets up close and personal.

Yokohama Gives Your Tires Wings

While Yokohama Rubber has been conducting research aimed at reducing rolling resistance since 2010, more recent use of aerodynamic simulation technology has focused on reducing vehicle air drag. In December of 2012, company researchers found that mounting fin-shaped protuberances on the inner sidewalls in a spoke-like pattern resulted in a reduction of aerodynamic drag inside the wheel wells.

Further experimentation with fin size, angle and placement sought to beneficially control aerodynamic flow from bumper to bumper. Eventually, researchers arrived at an optimum fin shape and placement technique involving fins mounted at angles near each tire's shoulder.

More Efficient Airflow Is The Way To Go

Studies employing a Supercomputer “K” and assisted by a team from the Institute of Fluid Science at Tohoku University used aerodynamic simulations to refine the effect of the aerodynamic fins. As seen in the screen capture above, the fins reduced drag on the tire's upper half while lessening lift on the lower portion and generally smoothing airflow along the vehicle's lower bodywork.

We won't see actual finned tires for some time yet, though when we do they should incorporate Yokohama Rubber's concurrent research on the placement of “dimples” on tire sidewalls. It works for golf balls so who knows... and might we someday see tiny fins on golf balls? Leave it to Yokohama – that's just how they roll.