From Russia with love – dandelions to Continental taraxagum tires

Why would a company name a brand new 2016 tire a name that sounds like it comes from a dinosaur? I did some digging on the internet and found out, through Wikipedia, that “Taraxacum kok-saghyz (TKS) was cultivated on a large scale in the Soviet Union between 1931 and 1950, as well as in the United States, the UK, Germany, Sweden and Spain during World War II as an emergency source of rubber when supplies of rubber from Hevea brasiliensis in Southeast Asia were threatened. During this period, the highest yields achieved by the U.S. were 110 kg of rubber per hectare, while the USSR achieved yields of 200 kg of rubber per hectare.”

That little plant, TKS, also known as the Kazakh dandelion, rubber root, or Russian dandelion is a species of dandelion native to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan according to the Columbus Dispatch. Today’s rubber supply is a direct result of Japan cutting off the rubber supply during World War II. Demand for rubber continues to grow, and ongoing research in Germany have allowed Continental to make tires out of synthetic rubber from Russian Dandelions.

There are thousands of dandelions, but it’s the Russian dandelions that Nikolai Setzer, Executive Board Member, Continental tire division, says produce the best results and the most rubber. In 2013, Continental started developing their Russian dandelion farm, cutting off the heads and roots and sucking out the innards, they were able to start producing tires in 2014 called taraxagum tires.

The short cultivation time on marginal soil, in moderate climate are all benefits that add to the alternative natural rubber source.

Mowing off the head of a dandelion will never be the same.

About the Author:

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.