While most tyre manufacturers are evolving their approach to building ranges of electric vehicle tyres, with specialism not always the preferred route, a small number of tyre-makers were quick off the mark with new product lines. Korean manufacturer Kumho was one of the small number to bring an all-new product to the electric vehicle replacement tyre market, entering the burgeoning segment in 2016 with the Wattrun VS31. The tyre garnered several accolades for pioneering design work, including both the prestigious German Red Dot Design Award and American Green Good Design award. Now Kumho’s strategy is to bring its EV line more directly into alignment with its existing passenger car tyre brands; the Wattrun VS31 pattern has now been superseded by the Ecsta PS71 EV, the company’s next generation electric vehicle tyre.
The electric vehicle tyre market is evolving quickly, with manufacturers adding EV-appropriate technologies to existing ranges and in some cases launching new lines of specialist products. These products have several goals, most notably offering range-maximising fuel economy, increased resistance to wear, reducing noise, and the ability to carry heavier loads, all while demonstrating greater sustainability and continuing to offer a high level of safety performance. Naturally these characteristics require technological advancements in order to reconcile contradictory demands; for example, making lower-weight tyres that consume fewer materials while also increasing ruggedness to reduce wear and tyre emissions. With tyres specified for electric vehicles now appearing on the European aftermarket in greater numbers, the need for independent scrutiny is becoming greater, and German magazine Auto Motor und Sport has responded by comparing three of the newest EV-specified products with current flagships, fitted to comparable Kia EV and internal combustion engine (ICE) models.
In its recent test of ten summer tyres in the performance size 245/40 R19 98Y, Auto Bild reports that an original equipment tyre tested “by chance” alongside the aftermarket models delivered an “alarming result” in the wet braking test. Elaborating on this strongly worded evaluation, the motoring magazine explains that the OE specification tyre had been tweaked for optimally low rolling resistance – and thus minimal fuel consumption and CO2 emissions – at the expense of stopping distance on wet roads.
The past two years have given plenty of reason to be optimistic about the speed of the electrification of the car parc. In the UK plug-in electric vehicle sales have grown market share quickly, rising to 18.5 per cent of new car registrations in the UK in 2021, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Add in hybrids, and this figure was over a quarter (27.5 per cent) last year. The new car market has faced severe headwinds with component shortages and other effects of the pandemic, leading to only one percent growth compared to the year of the most severe pandemic restrictions in 2020. Meanwhile EVs have benefitted from favourable consumer perception and government-backed schemes, leading to growth where other segments have faltered. With schemes due to expire and bottlenecking in the rollout of chargepoints, there could be more turbulence for new EV sales coming, yet current projections show that confidence in the EV segment is relatively high.
For decades, Nokian Tyres has been striving to make the world a safer and more environmentally-friendly place, and its latest innovation is described as its most sustainable tyre yet. The Nokian Tyres Green Step concept tyre incorporates an ambitious design consisting of 93 per cent of the materials either recycled or renewable. It moves the company even closer to its goal: by the year 2030, 50 per cent of all raw materials used in Nokian Tyres’ tyres will be recycled or renewable.
Michelin will supply replacement tyres to the all-inclusive electric car subscription service Onto. Speaking about the decision to fit Michelin tyres, Onto states that it wants to ensure users can access dedicated electric vehicle (EV) tyres. Rob Jolly, co-founder and CEO of Onto said the company wanted a tyre partner that “truly understands EVs” and the “huge impact” tyres can have on EVs’ performance. The company wants its tyres to support extended battery range, low noise and long-lasting safety throughout their life. Chris Smith, managing director of Michelin UK, added that the deal demonstrates both brands’ commitment to sustainable mobility.
Apollo Tyres has unveiled a new eco-oriented tyre developed by its R&D facilities in Europe and India and offering a “best in class rolling resistance coefficient.” The tyre maker says the Apollo Amazer XP complies with BS VI, India’s equivalent of Euro 6 standards, and is electric vehicle ready. Apollo will initially only sell the Amazer XP range in India, including as an original equipment tyre for several vehicles.
Finnish manufacturer Nokian Tyres says it wants to develop and present a concept tyre entirely produced from renewable and recycled tyres by 2025. It hasn’t yet shared specific project details, but it appears this 100 per cent eco-friendly concept may well be a winter tyre. Nokian’s announcement creates this impression, at any rate.
The Michelin Group aims for complete carbon neutrality by 2050, and it seems that every little helps. The tyre maker’s efforts even extend to its communications, and so it was that when sharing news of a new product’s impending launch, Michelin encouraged invitees to take their ‘first eco-action’ by spurning e-mail contact in favour of text messages. It explained that this form of communication’s carbon footprint was 0.00125g, some 200 times smaller than that of an e-mail. I did not know that.
The corona crisis may have compelled Michelin to present its latest tyre range via an online launch, but a low-carbon virtual format was also a good fit for the tyre’s environmental ambitions. For the Michelin e.Primacy is not only a successor to the Energy Saver; it also represents a new approach to tyre development at Michelin and is also the first tyre to be released with an Environmental Product Declaration.
About a year ago Continental announced its selection as a tyre supplier to the ID.3, and under this arrangement is providing original equipment EcoContact 6 summer tyres, WinterContact TS 850P winter tyres and AllSeasonContact all-season tyres. But tyres are only one of a host of Continental products and technologies going into the new all-electric range. The company is also supplying computer equipment, brake technology, hose lines, heat pumps and driver assistance systems.
Bridgestone Turanza Eco tyres have become an original equipment for Volkswagen’s eighth generation Golf. The new model includes a number of cutting-edge technologies, such as a semi-autonomous mode and a new suspension technology improving its handling and driving dynamics. The custom-designed Turanza Eco tyres add to this technological focus. They are designed to enhance the Golf 8’s upgraded driving dynamics, with the tyre manufacturer’s Enliten Technology reducing rolling resistance, weight, and materials consumption. VW has also approved Nexen’s N’blue S and Winguard Sport 2, and Vredestein’s Sportrac 5 and Wintrac Pro tyres as OE for different iterations of the Golf 8.
The latest eco-friendly offering from Kumho is the Ecowing ES31. This successor to the KH27 is now available in a total of 46 sizes for 14- to 17-inch rim diameters, and around 70 percent of these carry an EU label grade of ‘B’ for rolling resistance. The sizes include all key fitments for bestselling small and medium-sized hatchbacks and saloons such as the VW Polo and Golf, Fiat 500, Audi A1, A2, A3 and A4, BMW 1 and 2 Series, Peugeot 208 and Renault Clio.
Introduced earlier in the year at the Geneva International Motor Show, the BluEarth-air EF21 represents the very latest from Yokohama in environmentally-friendly tyre design. The tyre comes with a coveted ‘AA’ label rating for rolling resistance and wet grip.