Spare Tires -- In Cars -- Are Disappearing
Customer and regulatory demands for higher fuel economy led to the creation of the compact temporary spare tire in the 1980s. The same pressures now may eliminate the spare tire entirely, writes Mark Phelan of the Free Press.
"The general rule of thumb is that a 10% reduction in (vehicle weight) leads to a 6-7% improvement in fuel economy," said Jay Baron, president and CEO of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.
Automakers are replacing spare tires with tire sealants and an inflation kit to fix most flats. The tire sealant and inflation kit weigh 5-6 pounds, compared with 30 or more for a temporary spare and 50 or more for a full-size spare and its tools, GM director of chassis engineering Terry Connolly said.
"Engineers sweat bullets to reduce a car's weight by grams, and this is a way to shed 40 or 50 pounds," said Bill Visnic, Edmunds.com senior editor and analyst. "Not every customer is comfortable with it, though."