Hankook iFlex

What are two of the biggest headaches one can have when it comes to driving? The first would have to be a car breakdown, and the other, a punctured tyre. While both would leave you immobilised, the former might be unavoidable, but the latter, however, could see a revolutionary gap bridged, or a ‘puncture’ sealed forever.

Korean tyre maker Hankook might inch us closer to that. The Hankook iFlex is the company’s latest non-pneumatic tyre (NPT) which could very well see mass production soon.

The airless tyre concept, now in its fifth prototype form, uses uni-material, which is said to be eco-friendly, easily recycled and less toxic. The company adds that because the uni-material used to mould the iFlex recycles easily, the construction of the airless tyre has brought about greater energy efficiency in terms of manufacturing, new tyre construction techniques and has halved the manufacturing process from eight stages to just four, thereby reducing the company’s carbon footprint.

The iFlex has undergone exhaustive on-road tests to assess the tyre’s durability, hardness, stability, speed and even performance through high-speed slaloms. According to Hankook, speed tests were done in an electric car equipped with the iFlex, where the tyre successfully managed speeds of up to 130 km/h.

Airless tyres aren’t something new among tyre manufacturers though. Michelin first unveiled its own NPT back in 2005 – the hideous-looking ‘Tweel’ – while Bridgestone premiered its second-generation airless tyres at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, which they simply called the “Air Free Concept Tyre.” Which one will be the first to market such a tyre for real, we’ll have to wait and see.