Michelin says they’re close to creating a tire that can endure the extreme stress of 300 mph.
Hypercars are a bizarre breed of car. They’re all about style, sex appeal, and above all, speed. A hypercar that can’t go fast isn’t worthy of the name.
The current record holder for the fastest car is the Koenigsegg Agera RS. Last year, the hyperest of hypercars managed to reach an average speed of 277 mph, with peak straight-line velocity coming in at 284 mph.
At the time, Koenigsegg said they could have gone faster, but they were worried about the safety of the driver. Their tires, he said, hadn’t been rated to go that fast.
The issue with breaking the 300 mph barrier on a car has never been one about power. Getting 1,500 hp into a car is trivial at this point, as lots of carmakers have done it. The Bugatti Chiron has 1,479, while the upcoming Hennessey Venom F5 is said to have a blistering 1,600 hp.
Power is not the problem. The problem is getting that power from engine to the pavement.
At 300 mph, the heat and stress from the incredible friction of a wheel turning that fast on asphalt is beyond extreme. Not only that, any tire that is made to run at 300 mph has to withstand those pressures for minutes at a time since the speed record is taken as an average over multiple runs.
But according to Eric Schmedding, product manager at Michelin Tires, they’re getting close.
“We are knocking on the door of 300 mph,” Schmedding told Bloomberg in a recent interview.
Michelin was the tiremaker for both of the previous record-breaking runs on the Agera RS and before that the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport. The two companies seemed to have been in an all-out fight for achieving the title of world’s fastest car, but since the Agera RS came along, it seems like Bugatti has lost their nerve.
“It’s not on the top of my agenda,” said Bugatti CEO Stephan Winkelmann. “It’s something [my engineers] ask me about internally, but I think that Bugatti is much more than this.”
Winkelmann said their current car, the Chiron, has been electronically limited to 261 mph just to preserve components. They’re not even sure how fast the Chiron could go with the limiters turned off.
Meanwhile, hypercar makers from around the globe are zeroing in on 300 mph. Bugatti may be out of the game, but Devel Motors, Rimac, and of course, Koenigsegg, still have their sights set on the loftiest of goals. All they need is a tire to get them there.