Tyre history at a glance

1845: the Englishman Robert Thomson invents the pneumatic tyre. His patent is forgotten, however.

1888: John Boyd Dunlop invents the first viable pneumatic tyre. The decisive invention made at the right time.

1890: patent for tyres with steel cord in the bead on a one-piece rim and the clincher rim tyre from Barlett. Both of them simplify installation and removal.

1895: pneumatic tyres are used for the first time by André and Edouard Michelin in a long-distance trial during the Paris-Bordeaux-Paris car race.

1898: first cars come on the market with pneumatic tyres.

1904: car tyres are produced with cross tread. Strength and durability are increased by adding soot to the rubber.

1905: Continental launches car tyres on the market with metal rivets to prevent skidding – a predecessor of spikes.

1906: the removable rim from Michelin makes inflated spare tyres possible.

1917: at the same time that Bayer develops synthetic rubber, Goodyear launches the first pneumatic lorry tyre on the market.

1921: John Boyd Dunlop dies in Dublin at the age of 80.

1922: Dunlop premiere at the International Car Exhibition: first car tyre with steel wire in the bead; this has been standard in production ever since 1924.

1923: cotton is used as the basic material for the tyre substructure. And Michelin starts a new era with the low-pressure balloon tyre “Confort”. The tyre is driven at a pressure of 2.5 bar (and lasts 15,000 kilometres); 4.5 bar had been normal before.

1930: the distance between the tread blocks that were already standard on the surface of car tyres is varied for the first time by Dunlop; the result is less noise when driving.

1932: Michelin introduces the “Super-Confort”, which manages with an air pressure level of 1.5 bar and is said to last for 30,000 kilometres.

1933: the tyre substructure is for the first time made from rayon (nylon fibre) instead of cotton.

1934: Michelin launches a new “Super-Confort”. It has lamellae for the first time and has exceptionally good roadholding properties in wet conditions as a result.

1943: celebration time at Continental: the company obtains a patent for tyres without an inner tube – a development that is taken for granted nowadays.

1946: Michelin is pleased to receive a patent too. For the steel-belted tyre ‘Michelin X’, which is at the same time produced as a radial tyre (radial ply cords are at right angles to the direction of movement).

1950: the first mud and snow tyres (M+S) are launched on the market.

1953: there are fashion trends with tyres too: Pirelli introduces the first textile-belted tyre ‘Cinturato’.

1959: the first tyres with rounded shoulders are launched on the market.

1962: tyres are give a carcase made from polyester cord..

1964: the first tyre with an extremely small cross-section (0.82) is introduced. This means that the wall height of all sizes is only 82 per cent of the width of the road contact area.

Things get more detailed from now on:

1965: the asymmetric belted tyre Michelin XAS is introduced.

1966: first fold-up spare tyre, which is still used today.

1968: Goodyear supplies the bias-belted tyre, with a diagonal carcase and glass fibre belting.

1971: Pirelli introduces the first high-performance wide tyre from the 60 series.

1972: Dunlop produces the “Denovo” safety tyre.

1973: Metzler launches the first traction tyre with blue tread on the market, while Kleber introduces the V10, a tyre with carbon belting made from fibre-reinforced plastic.

1975: the Michelin TRX tyre is premiered: a rim and tyre system with sizes based on a new millimetre standard that is supposed to improve driving performance and make it possible to continue driving to some extent after a puncture with the additional TDX option. Initial tests with moulded polyurethane tyres begin the same year at LIM in Austria.

1980: the Goodyear All Weather – the first genuine all-year tyre – comes onto the market.

1982: Michelin leads the way again by launching the first modern winter tyre with lamellae on the market.

1983: Dunlop presents a new wheel/tyre security system: TD/Denloc. The Denloc groove in the rim and an appropriately shaped bead toe on the tyre make sure that the tyre does not detach from the rim when pressure drops suddenly and that the vehicle does not start swerving as a result.

1985: Continental has a simpler solution: the tyre bead is no longer located between the hump and the rim flange; instead of this, it reaches around the rim. It does not prove to be successful in spite of its simplicity.

1990: Conti creates the AquaContrakt, a high-performance wide tyre with the tread divided into two sections and with a deep central groove.

1991: Vredestein develops a wide tyre that comes onto the market in two different sizes to start with: 195/50 R 15 T and 205/50 R 15 T. What is new is the speed category T (up to 190 km/h) for wide tyres; until then, wide tyres had only been available in H (up to 210 km/h) and V (up to 240 km/h).

1992:Goodyear develops the first run-flat tyre, with which it is possible to continue driving a limited distance at reduced speed following a puncture.

1992: Michelin combines silica (silicic acid) with a synthetic elastomer for the first time. This blend makes it possible to produce tyres with low rolling resistance and good grip on cold surfaces without losing any wear resistance. This innovation leads to the creation of tyres with low rolling resistance, which helps to reduce fuel consumption.

1993: Michelin introduces the car tyre XH4 in North America. They last for a sensational 80,000 miles, i.e. almost 130,000 kilometres!

1998: Dunlop develops the DSST system, with which the vehicle can continue driving when a tyre punctures.

1999: Dunlop presents a tyre pressure warning system: WARNAIR. It detects pressure losses automatically and gives the driver an acoustic or visual warning. And Dunlop is the first manufacturer to receive the “Blue Angel” environmental award for a tyre which is particularly quiet and with the help of which fuel can be saved too.

2001: Michelin develops a new technology for aircraft tyres that helps the Concorde to lift off again: the Michelin radial tyres use what is known as NZG technology, which prevents tyre deformation on impact or if there is a large pressure change.

2002: at the Geneva Motor Show, Bridgestone and Continental announce technical co-operation about the joint development of a run-flat tyre as competition for the run-flat tyre supplied by Goodyear.

2003: run-flat tyres (RFT) are becoming standard to an increasing extent. The most important advantages of RFT tyres are the maintenance of control over the vehicle even if air pressure drops suddenly and the ability to keep driving. This leads to an increase in safety, because changing wheels on narrow or busy roads is no longer necessary, on the one hand, while there is no need to stop in dangerous places, on the other hand. It is at any rate guaranteed that the vehicle can be driven to the next garage – which is a considerable improvement in safety. It is also unnecessary as a result to keep a spare wheel in the car, so that weight can be eliminated.

2004: Goodyear launches the HydraGrip on the market. Advantage: grip is just as good on both wet and dry roads. The patented tread technology increases road contact substantially when braking, even in emergency situations when there is heavy rain.

2006: Michelin Germany celebrates its 100th birthday on 17.12.2006.

2008: Pirelli presents the new Cinturato (belted tyre). A new version of the tyre, which has been the symbol of Italian driving style all over the world since the Fifties, is brought onto the market that focusses completely on innovative technology, safety and environmental compatibility.

2010: Goodyear starts to develop a tyre made from renewable biomass. The Biolsoprene™ concept is presented at the World Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.