Pirelli Says a Tire Slim-Down Lies Ahead

Tall, skinny, and Italian. No, we’re not talking about high fashion models wearing the latest designs on Milan runways. Italian tire maker Pirelli says that’s the future of passenger tires. Pirelli Australia technical manager Simon Pool says the tires of the near future will be much taller and thinner than the tires we see on the roads today. The upcoming changes predicted by Pirelli come in response to tightening European Union standards on tires’ noise, wet-weather grip, and rolling resistance.

Pool says that the average rim diameter of these new skinny tires could increase to 21 inches by 2020. But what kind of vehicle would these tires support? It appears that they’re best suited for city driving. Notoriously inefficient, city driving reduces the number of miles you get out of your gas tank. The reduced rolling resistance and wet-weather grip of these skinny tires could offset that problem. Here are a couple of efficient city concept cars that include tall, skinny tires in their designs.

BMW i3 Concept

BMW USA calls the BMW i3 a megacity vehicle. It’s an electric, purpose-built car meant for sustainable and emission-free driving. The coupe is a fully networked vehicle that uses infrastructure and real-time traffic information to give the driver updated range estimates. Low weight further boosts the efficiency of the i3. This electric concept car has narrow 19-inch wheels.

Audi Urban Concept

The Audi Urban is a two-seat vehicle that has the driver and passenger sitting in single file. The Urban has two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery with 35 miles of range. Built with city driving in mind, the Urban has a top speed of 62 mph.

They’re not your average donuts, and the sight of them may take some getting used to. But, if ultra-efficient city cars are the future of urban driving, then tall, skinny tires just might be coming soon to an intersection near you.