Hankook's iFlex airless tires are on a roll

Hankook wants to take the pressure out of driving. Air pressure, that is.

The Korean tire company has unveiled the latest generation of its experimental iFlex non-pneumatic tires. The goal is to create a tire that never goes flat, but delivers the same shock absorption and handling characteristics as an air-filled tire.

To achieve this, the new iFlex features a compressible web with a similar sidewall height to a conventional tire. Although the company hasn't revealed all of the details, it appears that it can be mounted to a standard automobile wheel. Earlier versions combined the tire and wheel into a single component referred to as a "tweel." The new one is also made from a new type of rubber that's easier to produce and recycle than before.

Hankook says it's been tested at speeds up to 80 mph and matched the durability, hardness, stability, and slalom performance of a pressurized tire. There's no word on when it might go into production, but several other tire companies have been working on similar technology, some of which is already on sale for off-highway uses.

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