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We can’t be sure who invented the wheel, but the invention certainly gave birth to land transportation as we know it today.

Take a look at your car. Presumably it has tires. They are probably rubber and filled with air. These are called pneumatic tires, and they are arguably one of the most influential variations of the wheel yet invented.

We do know a bit about who invented the pneumatic tire, or “tyre,” as it is commonly spelled in Scotland.

In 1888, John Boyd Dunlop patented the rubber pneumatic tire. He originally created the tire for bicycles (he experimented first using his son’s tricycle), realizing that an inflatable rubber tire improved stability, traction, control and comfort. The rubber pneumatic tire’s instant popularity in the cycling world increased demand for the new product and catalyzed the success of Dunlop’s rubber company: Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre Company.

However, two years after patenting the pneumatic tire, Dunlop’s patent was declared invalid. Apparently, Dunlop was not the first inventor of the rubber pneumatic tire. Robert William Thomson, a fellow Scot with an equally impressive beard, had, in fact, patented the invention 43 years earlier. Thomson’s invention consisted of a rubber belt encased in leather that was fitted to the outside of horse-drawn carriage wheels.

Unfortunately for Thomson, pneumatic tires were not well received and were mostly forgotten about until Dunlop invented them anew as bicycle tires. Dunlop’s tires inspired André Michelin and others to further develop the invention for use on automobiles. So Dunlop gets most of the credit (sort of like how the Vikings got to America first, but Christopher Columbus was the guy who “discovered” it).

Pneumatic car tire technology is still advancing today. Tires are very important to the overall performance and economy of the vehicle. They have a significant effect on gas mileage, braking distance, and vehicle balance and control. New developments in tire technology provide better fuel efficiency and performance, and many more are in the works — with sustainability in mind.

Tire technology will have a substantial influence as we progress toward greener cars.  Yokohama Tire has created a revolutionary tire made from synthetic rubber and waste orange oil. Bridgestone is experimenting with a non-pneumatic (airless) tire made of the recycled material from old tire,

Earthgarage – Greener Car. Fatter Wallet.