The Geneva Auto Show is not taking place this year due to concerns about the coronavirus, but new cars and new concepts continue to spread around the world digitally. The tire maker Goodyear generally uses Geneva as a platform to show off its most extravagant and futuristic ideas that it calls "expandable concepts".
This year's concept is called reCharge and it envisions a complete wheel system that dynamically creates its own tread using dispersed material from replaceable liquid cartridges. The foundation of the wheel itself would not change: it is a permanent airless space supported by a series of internal metal structures. The actual compound hitting the road would protrude through holes in the surface of the tire. In practice, it looks a lot like Play-Doh passing through an extruder in a uniform pattern.
Because the tread material comes from an editable nacelle, drivers would be able to exchange different compounds for different types of driving, which would make it a truly all-season tire. For example, it could remove softer, stickier substances in winter to improve traction in colder temperatures, and then move to something harder in the warmer months to reduce overall rolling resistance.
Since Goodyear flirts with science fiction in these concepts anyway, the company imagines to rearrange the materials involved, including adding "synthetic spider silk" for reinforcement and dandelion rubber, which is derived from a specific version of the plant that grows naturally in Asia, but can exist anywhere with a similar climate. The resulting rubber is a long-lasting and enduring source of tire compound, but the relative lack of supply currently makes production at the necessary scale difficult.
While you may see some of the reCharge materials hit the streets over the next decade, the entire concept is unlikely to ever hit the market. Thinking back to some of the previous "stretching concepts", you will find the 2016 Eagle-360, which would connect to the car by magnetic levitation in order to be able to rotate freely in all directions. Obviously, this never became a reality.
Last year, the company unveiled the Oxygene tire, which used an open structure and soft rubber to draw water from the road. He then channeled this liquid into foam which lives in the sidewalls of the tire.