Design & SimulationSeptember 7, 2023

Get a Grip on Sustainability with Tire Engineering Simulation

In this article, we discuss how simulation enables sustainability in tire engineering. Tire dust is a significant source of particulate pollution and will be regulated under the next generation of European emission standards. In addition, the high torque and weight of electric vehicles (EV) mean more wear on EV tires. All these factors mean tire manufacturers cannot avoid sustainability as a design requirement.
Avatar Katie Corey

Simulation allows tire engineers to maximize the sustainability of their products and ensure tires meet all specifications. Leading companies are using simulation to find the best trade-off between wear, fuel efficiency and grip on the magic triangle; to design smart connected tires that enable automatic wear monitoring and Tire as a Service (TaaS); and to manage the growing complexity of their product ranges through modular tire design.

How Tires Can Cause Air Pollution

When we think about pollution from cars, we usually think of the tailpipe emissions. But there’s another source of pollution that has a surprisingly big impact – tires.

According to a study by Imperial College London, tires are responsible for over half of the car’s particulate emissions – microscopic particles such as soot and dust that can cause breathing problems. As the car drives, the tires gradually wear away, and the tiny particles of rubber that are released can be either carried in the air or washed into watercourses where they cause microplastic pollution.

Even electric vehicles release tire particles – in fact, the added weight of the batteries and the high torque that many electric cars output can cause tires to wear faster. In recognition of this problem, the next generation of European emission standards, Euro 7, will take into account emissions from tires. It has never been more important for tire manufacturers to design for sustainability.

Improving Tire Wear Resistance and Fuel Efficiency – “The Magic Triangle”

Tire engineers often talk about the Magic Triangle of requirements – three fundamental KPIs that exist in a complicated trade-off: wear, rolling resistance, and wet grip. These can also be thought of as durability, fuel efficiency and handling. Changing the material properties of the tire to improve its resistance to wear will, all things being equal, degrade performance in the other two categories.

Tire engineers therefore want to optimize within this triangle – to find a design that will satisfy requirements across all the corners of the triangle, or even potentially to push the boundaries of the triangle outwards and improve performance in multiple categories at once.

With simulation, engineers can analyze the potential of a planned design – its durability, fuel efficiency, handling, puncture resistance, thermal resilience, hydroplaning, aerodynamic drag and more – before committing to manufacturing prototypes, potentially saving development time and money and widening the horizons of innovation. Simulation allows tire engineers to explore more of the design space, using automated design of experiments (DoE) and optimization to methodically search for the best possible trade-off between factors.

Modular Tires

To improve fuel efficiency and tailor the ride experience, automotive manufacturers and drivers are increasingly demanding tires that are precisely targeted to their needs. With the rise of EVs and the increase in electric variants, new tires that can bear the increased weight and torque need to be developed.

As tires become more specialized, the range of products must expand to cover every customer’s requirements. This puts an increased burden on the engineering teams to develop more tire designs in shorter time periods. From a sustainability perspective, it can also be very wasteful to produce so many tire prototypes. Tire manufacturers have to manage more stock-keeping units (SKUs) than ever before.

Modular tires represent one way to deal with this problem. Rather than designing each tire from scratch, teams develop common tire parts that can be mixed and matched according to the specific requirements for a product.

Slip simulation of a tire.

A unified modeling and simulation (MODSIM) approach accelerates modular tire design. Under MODSIM, the modular tire elements can be designed individually, but then automatically built up into a finished tire product. Simulation is used to optimize the design at every stage of the process, from the initial design of the common carcass, through to the final analysis of the finished tire. Individual components can be optimized while taking into account the interactions between them in the assembled tire.

Connected Tires and Tire as a Service

Tire management has always been an important part of fleet operations. In industries such as trucking, parcel delivery, public transport, car rental and taxicab hire, vehicles rack up tens or hundreds of thousands of miles per year and operators often have to manage many hundreds of vehicles. A puncture can delay a shipment by hours and even jeopardize safety, so tire wear is a constant focus for fleet managers.

The traditional approach to tire management necessitates regular inspections and a strict replacement cycle. This is however labor-intensive and requires unfavorable trade-offs – changing tires too infrequently risks tire blowouts, but changing them too often is wasteful and leads to significant downtime. This is especially important for new challengers in industries such as ridesharing and logistics, for whom optimized fleet management offers a key competitive edge over established players.

To make tire management more efficient, tire manufacturers have developed connected tires. These include sensors that monitor the condition of the tire and antenna systems that broadcast this data to the operator. These help enable the Tire as a Service (TaaS) model where tire manufacturers sell tires not as unitary products but as an ongoing subscription.

Electromagnetic simulation can be used to develop sensors and antennas and ensure that they operate as expected even in challenging conditions such as water, snow and mud. Multiphysics simulation, powered by MODSIM, means that the electromagnetic analysis of antennas and sensors can be performed on the same model as structural and aerodynamic analysis, ensuring all teams are working on the same up-to-date and accurate data.


Particulate matter from tires is a major source of air pollution, and future regulatory emissions standards will require automotive manufacturers to account for it in their emissions data. In addition, electric vehicles tend to be heavier and more powerful, contributing to increased wear. These factors will contribute to the growing pressure on tire manufacturers to make longer-lasting, more sustainable tires.

Simulation helps tire manufacturers to design tires that meet increasingly stringent specifications, and to balance all the trade-offs, including the “magic triangle.” Simulation also enables manufacturers to develop innovative new tire concepts such as modular tires and smart connected tires. By combining modeling and simulation in a unified environment (MODSIM), tire manufacturers can accelerate the development process and reduce costs.

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