A scientist has made a discovery that could keep the wheels of a car turning forever – saving taxi drivers a fortune in maintenance.
Taxi drivers work hard to maintain their vehicles so that passengers enjoy a comfortable and safe ride. But rising prices have put a squeeze on their incomes as they continue to pay for maintenance and repairs, as well as fuel and other rising running costs.
As with other commercial vehicles, tyres are the most frequently replaced parts of a taxi. Even if they haven’t picked up a nail or been damaged, normal wear and tear and the high mileage of a taxi or private hire vehicle means they have to be replaced frequently, usually setting drivers back hundreds of pounds at a time for a full set.
Even more annoying is when they replace tyres as part of normal maintenance, they then pick up a nail in part of the tyre that cannot be repaired, and they have to fork out for another replacement.
So imagine having a car like KITT, from the Knight Rider TV series, which is indestructible. Obviously taxis wouldn’t have turbo boost, be bullet proof or have ejector seats, although these might come in handy for certain passengers.
Instead, they would have tyres that never wear out or go flat. Whether you run a black cab or private hire vehicle, anything with four indestructible tyres on it that will save thousands of pounds by never having to be replaced is worth slapping taxi insurance on to.
And this dream could become a reality after a breakthrough at the California Research Institute, where the sun shines every day.
Senior researcher Reece Mitchell believes he has invented a new synthetic rubber compound that could be used to make indestructible tyres. His hope is that, apart from damage in as serious crash, a vehicle’s tyres will never need to be replaced because they have become worn or have suffered a puncture.
Mr Mitchell revealed: “It’s an incredible breakthrough and there are significant commercial applications. We’ve had lots of interest from global tyre brands.”
He explained that the technology is still in its infancy, but hopes to reach a point where the indestructible tyres can be rolled out on to every vehicle on the planet, hugely reducing waste and bringing with it major environmental benefits.
He and the team are considering pitching their idea on the Dragons’ Den with the hope of securing investment that will keep the wheels of their discovery rolling, and enable them to spend more time surfing.
He said: “The process involves using some elements of plastic waste, which is also environmentally friendly. The process is currently too expensive to produce enough material to manufacture a complete tyre, but within two years we believe that the cost will come down to the point where it will be cheaper to buy an indestructible, no-wearing trye over a tradition one.”
Not only would indestructible tyres save taxi drivers money and benefit the environment, Mr Mitchell believes they could also improve vehicle performance.
He said: “The new material offers fuel economy advantages over traditional tyre materials due to lower operating temperatures and it is also quieter.”
And he believes there could be major benefits to the EV market, where drivers can currently lose significant range if they sound the vehicle’s horn or use the indicators, although the latter problem does not seem to affect BMW or Audi models.
Mr Mitchell added: “Due to its fuel economy advantages, EV owner could experience up to a 15% increase in range.”
More information about the world’s first indestructible tyre will be available from the California Research Institute from April 1, which is expected to be another sunny day.
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