When automobiles are replaced with electric motors, what is changed is not only the power component, but also the tires which serve a crucial role in the process of electrification. Major German tire manufacturer Continental recently announced its research experience on electric vehicle tires. Let’s see what changes these tires will bring.
Automobile fanatics would understand that tires are the most important part in a vehicle, since everything is eventually realized though tires, no matter how powerful the horsepower, or how strong the brake is. Electric vehicles have achieved substantial changes in power, so do they require special tires? The answer, according to Continental, is: “Yes!” (Hurry and get yourself some new tires).
Apart from manufacturers always urging car owners to replace their tires, the several reasons proposed by Continental are actually reasonable.
The first reason for switching to special tires is weight. Electric vehicles are equipped with large and hefty batteries that exceed the weight of fossil fuel vehicles with full tank. The weight of Tesla Model 3 is 300kg more than Toyota Altis of the same length, and the LongRange version is 600kg more than the latter.
The second reason is torsion: the instant large torsion of electric motors drastically increases the acceleration speed of electric vehicles, indicating that the tires are required to deliver more power to the ground.
The last reason is noise. Electric vehicles produce relatively less noise while driving compared to fossil fuel vehicles, which somewhat enlarges other noises within the vehicle, including the road noise derived from tires, and Tesla owners are often dissatisfied with the miscellaneous sound inside their vehicles.
Hence, Continental designers believe that a tire exclusively used for electric vehicles has to possess the following 3 conditions: heavy load structure, special tire surface, and a noise reduction design. The tire needs to also achieve light weight and affordable cost while satisfying these 3 conditions, which is the tricky part for the designers.
Under these combination of conditions, the special tires used by electric vehicles may become “higher and thinner” in order to reduce noise and the coefficient of rolling resistance, which also helps with the driving range of electric vehicles in a profound degree.
The electric vehicle ID.3 that will soon be released by Volkswagen has adopted the new generation energy-saving tires Enliten by Bridgestone, which not only offer 30% less rolling resistance compared to traditional tires, but are also 20% lighter in weight.
▲ The energy-saving tire Enliten designed by Bridgestone will become a standard configuration of Volkswagen ID.3.
The default tires provided by Tesla have also undergone several changes, with Michelin as the more commonly seen choice of tires nowadays, though the so-called “special tires for electric vehicles” have not been adopted in particular. Electric vehicle owners are recommended to change to tires with embedded sound-absorbing cotton or other noise reduction technology when experiencing apparent road noise coming from tires.
In all fairness, electric vehicles are indeed prone to the 3 above-mentioned variations, though these factors can also happen to certain fossil fuel vehicles, such as the 3 series of BMW, which is not much lighter than Model 3, and fossil fuel vehicles with large torsion actually occupy a significant portion of the market. Perhaps car owners should place additional emphases on tires that are designed with noise reduction and beneficial to the driving range.
(Cover photo source: Continental)