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THE EVOLUTION OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES PUSHES TYRE TECHNOLOGY TO NEW FRONTIERS

The tyre industry is constantly evolving and the advent of electric vehicles is pushing tyre companies to invest in new technologies to develop ever more innovative and efficient tyres.

New challenges for electric vehicle tyres

Are tyres just tyres? Actually, the advent of electric vehicles and the typical characteristics of these vehicles can influence the performance and longevity of tyres, and this is stimulating a new technology race among major manufacturers, who are trying to distinguish themselves through innovation and technology. Reducing the rolling resistance and increasing the efficiency of electric vehicles has become a crucial goal, as they can significantly improve range. In addition, tyre technology is cardinal in improving the safety, stability and handling of vehicles, helping to reduce road accidents.

Managing the power of electric motors

Electric motors instantly send power to the tyres and this poses several challenges in terms of stability and wear. Squeezing the accelerator hard with that much power underfoot would blow the tyres, but even under normal driving conditions, how does that instant burst of torque affect tyre performance? Traction control helps manage the delivery of power, but much also needs to be done to improve the efficiency with which it is discharged to the ground.


Electric vs. combustion: the influence of weight

Weight is also an important factor, as batteries and electric motors are increasing it significantly. This is not necessarily a problem specific to electric vehicles (think of what happened with SUVs), but it does require tyre manufacturers to review their design and use. Tyres for small sedans with combustion engines, with certain load ratings, may not be appropriate for similar electric sedans with higher mass. Rolling resistance is also important, and a grip level must be found that offers a good combination of efficiency and traction.


Maintenance and safety

Electric vehicles require less maintenance or have longer inspection intervals than vehicles with combustion engines. This will probably also lead to tyres having fewer inspections by professionals for longer periods of time, and the average driver may not know what to look for in terms of wear or possible damage. Therefore, tyre companies are not only developing new types of tyres, but are exploring new ways to collect data both for research purposes and to manage safety notifications to drivers.

Let's see how the four biggest companies in the industry - Continental, Goodyear, Michelin and Bridgestone - are tackling the challenge of tyre technology for electric vehicles.


Continental: increasing rolling efficiency

Continental, one of the largest companies in the tyre industry, is investing in new technologies to develop high-performance tyres for electric vehicles. In particular, the company is working on reducing the rolling resistance of tyres to increase the efficiency of electric vehicles and extend battery life. Continental is also investing in new eco-friendly materials to reduce the environmental impact of tyres.


Goodyear: sensors to transmit data

Goodyear, another major player in the industry, is developing tyres that can handle the increased torque of electric vehicle motors and improve the energy efficiency of vehicles. In addition, Goodyear is working on tyres that use sensors to communicate with the vehicle and provide information on tyre status, pressure and temperature.


Michelin: improving traction and stability

Michelin is working on new technologies to improve the safety of tyres for electric vehicles. In particular, Michelin is developing tyres that can adapt to different driving conditions and improve traction, handling and vehicle stability. Michelin is also investing in new technologies to reduce the environmental impact of tyres.


Bridgestone: adapting to driving conditions

Bridgestone is investing in new technologies to help improve the battery life of electric vehicles, in particular by focusing on reducing rolling resistance and developing tyres that can adapt to different driving conditions to improve the efficiency of electric vehicles. Bridgestone is also collaborating with other tyre companies to develop new tyre technologies and safety solutions.

In addition to the four major tyre companies analysed above, there are many more companies working on tyre technology for electric vehicles, including Pirelli, Hankook and Yokohama.


The challenge of sustainability

In the background of this technological evolution is also the environmental impact. Tyres are a significant source of CO2 emissions, both during production and during use. All innovations related to electric vehicles must therefore be integrated with those that aim to develop new eco-friendly technologies and materials to reduce their environmental impact and contribute to the transition to a low-carbon future.


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