The changing climate has prompted Pirelli to review its aims when designing new tyres. The first of this new generation of tyres is Pirelli’s Winter Sottozero Serie ll range. The tyre has undergone tests on a glacier near the Matterhorn, which delivered the extreme conditions required to test the tyre to its limits. The test site was so extreme that Pirelli could only get access by flying the test cars in by helicopter.
The extreme conditions were designed to push the tyres to their limit, but CEO of Pirelli, Francesco Gori, explained the true role of the Winter Sottozero, “This tyre is not just good for snow – it is also good for low temperature levels”. This reflects Pirelli’s changing perspective regarding winter tyres. In the past they have been viewed as specialist equipment designed for snowy conditions.
Pirelli’s notion is that climate change is a fact and that the weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable. In response they are aiming to create more versatile tyres that can cope with snow and ice, but are also efficient on cold, wet roads. Both the road and the tyre’s performance change at temperatures below 7 degrees. According to Pirelli, the Winter Sottozero Serie II should revolutionise the traditional idea of the winter tyre – a product that is not a snow tyre, but a seasonal one, suitable for all weather and road conditions throughout Europe from October to April.
The Winter Sottozero Serie ll range contains two types of tyre, the W210/W240 version is for high-performance cars, while the W270 variant is for super sports cars. Maurizio Boiocchi, senior vice-president of product and R&D at Pirelli, commented, “We have two families of product with the same fundamental innovations. As two related family members, the W210/W240 and the W270 have many shared characteristics, yet other qualities are unique to each tyre”.
Pirelli has developed a tread compound to produce a tyre that can be used in winter to replace the P Zero summer tyres. It will deliver the same high performance characteristics during the harsher conditions of winter. The tyres also incorporate Pirelli’s Temperature Dynamic Compound technology, which gives better performance at low temperatures, crucially, those below 7 degrees. Improved stability is delivered courtesy of the tyres interactive brickwork siping. Both versions of the tyre also utilize 0 degree polyamide fibre, which gives thermal stability, making the tyres less prone to loss of performance consequent to changes in road and air temperatures.
It is reassuring to see that tyre manufacturers are not only alert to the needs to create tyres that are more environmentally friendly, but are also adjusting tyre designs to take account of the changing condition resulting from global warming.