GM to work with researchers to create tires that improve fuel economy image

General Motors announced on Wednesday that its engineers will work with independent researchers from January to help develop tire technology that would help boost fuel economy in its vehicles.

GM gave $5 million to the National Tire Research Center in Virginia. The recently opened center includes tire performance machines that can help car and tire manufacturers to simulate real-life emergencies and improve road safety. According to estimates cited by GM, tire design can increase fuel efficiency by up to 7 percent.

The National Tire Research Center in Virginia includes $11.2 million in tire performance test equipment, which can run a tire up to 200 miles per hour (320 km/h) and offer data on ride, handling, torque and braking on different road surfaces. GM and other auto engineers can use data to help predict vehicle performance and change tire characteristics in order to improve it.

“This facility’s test equipment is like going from a basic telescope to the Hubble – it opens up a whole new world of possibilities. It can test tires in the full range of the performance spectrum. This facility has no peer in the world. It’s going to enable a transformational leap in tire technology,” said Frank Della Pia, a former GM vehicle dynamics manager and executive director of the tire research center.