Polaris Industries is taking their non-pneumatic tire (NPT) technology developed for military applications and is planning to commercialize it for other markets. The tires feature a web made of proprietary plastic, a solid outer band of rubber for the tread and an inner steel rim. In testing the tires have been able to withstand 0.50 caliber bullets and railroad spikes and continue to perform for hundreds of miles or more. A significant portion of the webbing can be compromised and the tire will remain functional.
The NPT tires also have the added advantages over pneumatic tires of being more shock absorbing for a better ride and contact with the driving surface and quieter since there is no air-filled cavity to amplify sounds. The NPT tires may be available as soon as early 2014. The technology originated with Resilient Technologies which Polaris acquired last year.
In early estimates management expects there to be a 30% to 50% premium over traditional tire and rim assemblies. One potential consumer segment that would want the tire would be recreational trail riders. They spend significant dollars on upgrades and drive their vehicles hard in difficult terrain. The convenience of not having to fix one or more flats on a ride could be compelling. In addition, commercial applications where UTVs are being used in particularly harsh and/or remote areas could make the tires worth the extra expense. SVR knows of one other major STOV manufacturer that is looking to introduce a NPT by the end of 2014.