Spider silk and Russian dandelions boost the EV tyre evolution
The EV revolution in the automotive industry surely cannot go on without having a firm grip on the road. Without optimised tyre technology, the state-of-the-art components of a modern EV wouldn’t matter much, as new generation tyres are critical for the performance of electric vehicles.
According to BloombergNEF, 57% of all passenger vehicle sales and 30% of the global passenger vehicle fleet will be electric by 2040. EVs have started dominating every car segment, shaking the tyre industry to develop more robust tyres with four main functions: carrying a greater mass, enduring high instant torque, reducing rolling resistance and absorbing noise. The distinct differences of EVs requires a better hold on the road, resistance to wear and tear and environmental components to align with decarbonisation goals.
Looking at the R&D of the top tyre brands, it's not hard to foresee a future where roads will corrode faster than EV tyres.
Goodyear’s spider chemistry
Goodyear follows an innovative renewable compound approach for EV tyres, bringing forward the customisable reCharge concept:
- Tyres are recharged with reloadable individual capsules, which are filled with biodegradable tread compounds,
- The capsules allow the tread to regenerate, enabling the tyre to adapt to road and climate conditions,
- The liquid compound can be customised according to the driver profile through artificial intelligence (AI),
- The compound made from biological material is reinforced with fibres inspired by synthetic spider silk, making the tyre highly durable and 100% biodegradable.
Goodyear’s “new ElectricDrive GT” (specific to North America) includes:
- SoundComfort Technology, a built-in sound barrier that helps reduce road noise.
- An asymmetric tread pattern, providing EV drivers with confident handling in harsh road conditions.
At CES 2022, Goodyear revealed a renewable tyre prototype, which is:
- Made up of 70% recycled compounds, including plastic bottles and soybean oil,
- Replacing black carbon components with renewable sources to comply with decarbonisation goals and increase the tyre’s durability.
Pirelli plays on the weight
Representing environment and innovation as the two main aspects of its EV tyre technology, Pirelli revealed the Elect tyre at the Geneva Motor Show in 2019, coming along with four essential advantages:
- Low rolling resistance,
- Noise reduction,
- An instant and firm grip of the asphalt and,
- A particular structure to hold the increased weight of EVs.
The P Zero rubber extends the range of an EV up to 15%, while the damping materials in the tyre absorbs the road noise. Some dampening materials are removed in particular areas to reduce hysteresis, loss of energy due to tire distortion when driving.
Pirelli announced P ZERO HL (high load) in the summer of 2021, able to support 20% more weight than a standard tyre and 6-9% more weight than an extra load XL tyre of the same size. P ZERO, which represents the ‘Perfect Fit strategy’ and to first appear in Lucid Air, carries some critical features such as:
- Pirelli Elect: enables the tyre to have low rolling resistance to increase range, reduce noise and a compound to meet the instant torque of the electric transmission.
- PNCS technology is a special sound-absorbing material to blunt air vibrations and increase driving comfort.
Bridgestone has ambitious goals
Bridgestone plans to have EV tyres account for 90% of its tyre sales by 2030. The assembly lines in Europe will come under transformation first, spreading to Japan, the US and South America. Eventually, 50 factories worldwide will be converted for EV tyre production.
Bridgestone has developed several EV tyre technologies such as:
- TECHSYN offers better wear efficiency and reduced rolling resistance,
- B-Silent minimises tyre noise for driver comfort,
- ENLITEN reduces tyre rolling resistance by up to 30% and weight by up to 20% to extend EV driving range and reduce environmental impact.
Bridgestone is working on HL tyres with automakers while extending collaboration for several projects, including the world’s first long-range solar EV Lightyear One and all-electric SUV Fisker Ocean.
Continental promotes balance
Continental says that tyres account for up to 20% of the total resistance endured by a vehicle. The prominent Continental EV tyre, the EcoContact 6 coming along with many abilities such as:
- The Green Chili 2.0 rubber compound; reduces rolling resistance by 15% compared to its predecessor,
- The ContiSilent technology reduces road noise by 9 decibels using a special foam layer,
- Less energy consumption and firmer road grip through specialised structure,
- Reduced wear and tear resulting from high torque of EVs.
Continental added 25% to SL ratings (used by medium-sized cars) and 10% to XL ratings (used by large cars) to meet the increasing weight issue.
Aligned with the technological process, Continental is also undergoing a profound transformation as its rivals:
- The company opened a facility in Germany in 2018 to fight deforestation to develop sustainable tyres that use Russian dandelions instead of rubber trees.
- The ContiEcoContact sustainable tyre reduces fuel consumption by 3-4%,
- Continental adds more durability to its all-season tyres to reduce landfill waste.
Michelin eyes sporty EV cars
Michelin targets the electric sports cars niche with the Pilot Sport EV tyre.
The tyre, which is already available in China, Europe and the US, offers several advantages for EVs:
- Firm handling of the road at high speeds,
- Long-lasting wet grip through ElectricGrip Compound,
- MaxTouch Construction to maximize road contact,
- Acoustic Technology to reduce the noise level by 20%,
- Up to 60 km of additional range, depending on which version of the tyre is on which car type.
Main image: Lucid Air EV, courtesy of Lucid Air.
The first in-article image shows the Goodyear renewable tyre prototype, courtesy of Goodyear.
The second in-article image shows the Pirelli P Zero, courtesy of Pirelli.
The third in-article image shows Bridgestone EV tyre, courtesy of Bridgestone.
The fourth in-article image shows Continental EcoContact 6, courtesy of Continental.
The fifth in-article image shows Michelin Pilot Sport EV, courtesy of Michelin.