Auto Tech

Yokohama wants tire spoilers to be the next big efficiency innovation

Airflow can have a pronounced effect on your car's rolling resistance and fuel economy.

Tire spoilers: Deceptively simple, definitely helpful.Yokohama

Automakers often rely on little aerodynamic tricks to make their vehicles more efficient -- the less a car has to fight through the air, the less fuel it wastes. Japanese tire manufacturer Yokohama takes that one step further, incorporating small spoilers onto a tire's outer sidewall in order to increase overall fuel efficiency.

By placing thin, small fins at certain angles on the tire's outer sidewall, Yokohama has been able to better control airflow over the tire. The fins work in two different ways. On the top half of the tire, they help cut down on aerodynamic drag, which allows the tire to cut through the air without expending as much effort (read: fuel). On the bottom half of the tire, those same fins mitigate aerodynamic lift, which affects traction.

Yokohama's creation results from half a decade of computer simulation. In collaboration with Tohoku University's Institute of Fluid Science, the manufacturer utilized a supercomputer to pore over the effects of small ribs attached to a standard tire sidewall. These simulations gave Yokohama the information it needed to determine the best way to affix these spoilers, and the result is the slightly wacky tire you see here.

This isn't the first time Yokohama has thought about slapping miniature wings on its rubber. In 2012, the brand found that using these ribs on a tire's inner sidewall helped reduce aerodynamic drag within a car's wheel wells. This isn't the first innovation promising to make tires more efficient, either -- Korea's Hankook developed several new tire technologies, as well, including dimpled or heavily sculpted sidewalls.

Yokohama will roll out this concept for the first time at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, which starts on October 28.