Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s (Nasdaq: GT) latest innovation won't be speeding around a racetrack. Instead, and maybe more relatable to everyday folks, it will be circling around lawns and fields.
The Akron-based tiremaker recently announced the release of an airless, or non-pneumatic, turf tire — dubbed the Goodyear TurfCommand — for commercial lawn mowers. The product, which will be available in 2018 exclusively on Bad Boy Mowers' Outlaw XP model, furthers the company's strategy to develop maintenance-free technologies for passenger and commercial vehicles, especially in fleet applications, Goodyear said in a news release.
"The commercial release of this turf tire is an important step in our efforts to develop airless tire technology for a range of applications," said Christopher Helsel, Goodyear's chief technology officer, in the release. "As we look to a future where ridesharing and autonomous vehicles become mainstream, the demand for lower maintenance, longer lasting tires will continue to increase."
Indeed, Goodyear's focus of late has been on new technology and its application in fleets, Goodyear just last week announced it was acquiring Ventech Systems GmBH, a Germany-based company specializing in an automated tire inspection system designed to help fleet owners. And on Sept. 8, the company announced it was equipping Tesloop, a city-to-city mobility service that exclusively uses Tesla electric vehicles, with wireless sensors in its tires.
The new mower tire, available as an optional upgrade on the Bad Boy XP model, utilizes Goodyear's DuraWeb technology, which the company said it has been developing the past few years. The tire, which will be manufactured in the U.S., uses a thermoplastic connecting structure that provides both stiffness and flexibility to carry heavy loads while maintaining a smooth ride and minimizing turf tear, Goodyear said. The technology eliminates flats and air pressure checks.
Goodyear engineers and scientists, who developed DuraWeb at the company's Akron R&D facility, did field studies with the Cleveland Metro Parks and with mower dealers, such as Beltz Lawn and Garden Equipment in Akron.
Goodyear has been in the non-pneumatic tire game for quite some time. The company in 1970s participated in the design of tires for NASA's Apollo lunar roving vehicle. More recently, it worked on a tire for future missions to Mars.
Bad Boy Mowers has its headquarters in Batesville, Ark., and specializes in commercial and residential zero-turn lawn mowers.