Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting some of the intelligent innovations which have been designed into the Fering Pioneer to ensure it treads lightly on the planet while remaining uniquely capable in extreme conditions.
This week we take a look at the its striking wheel and tyre combination and discover they are more about function than fashion.
One of the most striking elements of the Fering Pioneer’s appearance are the huge wheels. At 22.5-inches, the rims are bigger than those fitted to the kind of ‘bling’ SUVs you will see cruising the boulevards of Los Angeles. Add in the chunky tyres and the overall diameter of the wheels is a massive 40-inches.
There’s no doubt that they look purposeful, especially as the Pioneer is actually comparatively compact, taking up no more room on the road than a medium-size van. But unlike fashion-first 4x4s, the Fering’s rims are fitted with pure functionality in mind.
Besides offering exceptional grip and helping the Pioneer achieve its astonishing off-road performance, the wheels are designed to accept standard sized truck tyres. These are extremely tough and universally available, which could be a literal lifesaver in remote locations.
Firstly, these thick-walled tyres are far more resistant to damage in the first instance. The sidewalls are tough and shrug off impacts which would shred a conventional car tyre. As the sidewalls only have to support the comparatively light weight of a Fering Pioneer rather than a heavy truck, they are also capable of keeping the vehicle mobile while deflated.
If the tyre does need replacement, the universally available sizing means drivers will be able to find supply in the most far-flung corners of the globe. Fering drivers won’t have to wait days for an expensive replacement tyre, or carry numerous bulky spares.
Truck tyres can be easily and safely ‘retreaded’ too, which saves 80% of the materials required for a new tyre and reduces the waste going to landfill or incineration. Although retreads (or remoulds) have a poor reputation among car drivers, they are considered normal for commercial vehicles and prevent 182kg of CO2 being released into the atmosphere – per tyre. They are subject to the same safety standards as all-new tyres.
Besides the benefit of being universally available, greener and tough, the huge tyres have other advantages on a vehicle which is designed to explore some of the harshest – and yet delicate – environments in the world.
Ben Scott-Geddes, Fering’s founder, explains: “To get a big patch of rubber in contact with the ground, you can either have wide tyres, or have them tall, but narrower. The latter option gives big benefits in off-road situations and makes the contact patch longitudinal.
“It gives extra grip on and off the road, but a bigger contact patch also means there is less pressure on the surface we’re driving on,” he says. “Think of it like the soles of shoes: a heavy 4×4 on small wheels is like a large man wearing stilettos. You’re going to sink into soft ground and make a mess of the turf. Our tyres and the overall light weight of the car mean it is like a toddler wearing skis in comparison.”
This is crucial in environmentally sensitive areas such as Arctic tundra where there are legal restrictions on the amount of ground pressure which can be applied by vehicles – hence the toy-like balloon tyres which are fitted to 4x4s in Arctic regions. The Pioneer will not require them in most areas, or can be fitted with commonly-available larger agricultural tyres in extremely delicate environments.
There are downsides to Fering’s ‘big is best’ strategy of course. The sheer size of the wheels requires a sophisticated suspension system and an incredibly stiff bodyshell – both of which are provided by the Pioneer.
The tyres themselves are heavy too, which is at odds with the light weight strategy which has been applied to every aspect of the Pioneer, and has resulted in it weighing less overall than a family hatchback.
Ben explained: “We have taken mass out of every area on the Pioneer, using the same ruthless scrutiny that we’d use for racing and engineering the most exotic hypercars. But we knew the tyres were a weight worth having, so we set about offsetting it with custom-made wheel rims. Making them to our own design means we can ensure they are lighter, easy to clean, strong, and resistant to damage. Owners will also be able to change the tyres without needing anything more than a tyre iron and a wheelbrace.”
These unusual wheels and tyres are just one of the ground-breaking and intelligent solutions which have been incorporated into the ‘clean sheet’ Fering Pioneer to make it truly fit for purpose.
Fering Technologies was born out of a mission to develop a vehicle that could traverse the globe with a lighter impact. A requirement to create an expedition vehicle for the polar regions, that could also cruise efficiently across open desert.
The vehicle has been designed, developed and tested from the ground up to ‘go anywhere, anytime’. It allows you to explore the deserts of Africa one week and the snow drifts of the Arctic circle the next.
The modularity of the Fering Pioneer allows for mission specific configuration and for personal luxuries to be added or removed with ease.
A working prototype is currently undergoing extreme testing; the first customer cars will be delivered in late 2022.
The team behind the Fering Pioneer
Ben Scott-Geddes: Previously Director of Innovation, Body In White at Ferrari, Fering’s founder Ben has a history of creating and developing pioneering new automotive technologies and vehicles. He was formerly Head of Advanced Concepts at McLaren and Technical Director of Caparo Advanced Composites, where he was responsible for the record-breaking T1. He worked under Gordon Murray building the McLaren F1, the F1 Le Mans winners in 1995 and subsequently the winning BMW V12 LMR in 1999.
Kieran Singleton has extensive experience of programme management of new vehicle concepts for automotive OEMs, including management of R&D activity, design & engineering, prototype build and whole vehicle testing. Kieran served as an officer in the British Army and his portfolio includes military vehicles, electric city car concepts and the TVR Griffith.
David Seesing is an experienced design manager with a long history of working in the automotive industry, delivering concept and production vehicle designs. His prior design roles include work for Bentley, Bugatti, Daimler and TVR, leading the design development of the TVR Griffith. David holds an academic position at the Royal College of Art.
Dan Primrose has worked the design offices of McLaren Automotive, the Red Bull F1 team, Caparo Vehicle Technologies and most recently Gordon Murray Design. His design work includes the McLaren SLR, Advanced Concepts for MP12c onwards, Caparo T1, BMW i5 Concept and the Zoox concept.
Chris Wright is a specialist in advanced composite construction, with experience of working in automotive and marine. He has been involved in building power boats and racing yachts, most recently with Sunseeker International. In automotive he has worked with Aston Martin, Caparo, McLaren and Mercedes-AMG.
Mac MacKenney is one of the world’s most accomplished automotive expedition leaders. Since 1996 he has planned, trained, equipped, supported and led teams on expeditions throughout the world. Mac is also Founder and Director of Driven to Extremes, an organisation that supports military veterans suffering from PTSD by taking them on challenging vehicle adventures and expeditions.
Chris Brady is an engineer, designer and entrepreneur. He founded and built Acro Aircraft Seating to a world-leading position, securing BGF funding and winning the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 Award in 2017.
Will Archer is an entrepreneur, investor and start-up specialist. He has built global businesses in research, consulting, recruitment and benchmarking. Will has extensive advisory experience with government agencies and education providers worldwide.