AA BUYER’S GUIDE: EV tyre tech explained
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In recent years there has been huge growth in the popularity of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Consequently, we have had many more enquiries from members surrounding pure-electric vehicles: like do BEVs need special tyres?
BEVs present a confluence of challenges for tyre manufacturers; these vehicles are heavier than comparable internal combustion engine (ICE) models and manufacturers also need to place greater importance on efficiency; every BEV kilowatt-hour is needed to maximise the range per charge.
Because range is so important, BEV tyres must be made as aerodynamic as possible to reduce drag.
BEV tyres are sometimes taller and slimmer than most ICE vehicle tyres, in order to reduce the overall drag. You may have seen the skinny wheels on the BMW i3, for example.
This is important when every bit of power needs to be conserved; the rolling resistance must be kept to a minimum by using low drag materials.
Another imperative factor that should be considered is the robustness of the tyres - because BEVs are usually heavier they place more strain on the tyres. They need to be strong enough to endure added wear and loads.
Noise, vibration, harshness (NVH)
If you have been behind the wheel of a BEV you have probably experienced one of your quietest rides. Because of this serenity, road noise can become much more apparent, so it must be kept to a minimum.
With all these factors at play it’s a real challenge. Here are some of the manufacturers who have committed to making BEV specific tyres.
Bridgestone is developing an original tyre fitment specifically engineered for BEVs, which currently account for about 11 per cent of its total original equipment (OE) line-up for passenger cars. This is quite a jump up from just four per cent in 2019, and is expected to exceed 20 per cent by 2024.
In 2021, 50 per cent of the top 10 BEV manufacturers globally chose Bridgestone fitments for their vehicles.
In 2021 Goodyear announced the launch of a new tyre design, which has been optimised for electric cars, especially Tesla vehicles – which will be the first to get the new tyres. Goodyear has also announced the launch of the ElectricDrive GT, a new tyre tuned specifically for the large North American BEV market.
Hankook is contributing to the Porsche Taycan with its special Ventus S1 evo 3 tyre, in mixed sizes to suit both the front and rear axles.
Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres were launched internationally in April 2021. The company makes the following claims.
- Grip on dry and wet roads irrespective of the level of wear, taking into account the higher weight and weight-distribution characteristics associated with BEV sports cars.
- Resistance to wear in response to high torque and acceleration forces.
- Low rolling resistance extends range by up to 60km.
- Twenty per cent less perceptible road noise thanks to Michelin Acoustic technology, which takes the form of a custom-developed polyurethane foam.
It’s clear that legacy brands are shifting with the times, to remain competitive and relevant for manufacturers seeking OEM parts and consumers looking for the best performance from BEVs.