While most of the attention at the Frankfurt Auto Show is on all the new cars coming out, Hankook is using this opportunity to debut their latest experiment: an airless tire. Yes, you read correctly, Hankook has created a tire that uses no air. Dubbed the “i-Flex” this tire is made from a special polyurethane sculpted into a mesh structure with an integrated “rim”.
Obviously, the i-Flex is puncture proof. However, its unique structure also aids in absorbing shock from the roads surface which contribute to a more comfortable ride and more stability in less than ideal conditions.
So far, Hankook has not announced plans to produce this tire for the mass market but the fact that they have such a “finished” looking concept to show off at a major auto show means that we can probably expect to see these types of tires in the future. It should be noted that airless tires aren’t entirely new as other tire companies (namely Bridgestone) have created airless tires in the past, but as far as I know, none of those concepts have had the polished production look that the i-Flex does.
It will be interesting to see how this tech will trickle down into the consumer market over the next decade or so!