In recent years there has been huge growth in the popularity of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Last year new BEV sale volumes were up 345 percent in New Zealand, and consequently we have had many more enquiries from Members surrounding BEVs. With questions like can we do a warrant of fitness on an electric vehicle? (Yes, we can). Or more recently do BEVs need special tyres fitted?
BEVs present an interesting set of new characteristics for tyre manufacturers as these vehicles are heavier than comparative Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) equivalents and can place additional wear on tyres. Manufacturers also need to place importance on fuel efficiency as it plays a bigger role in a BEV.
Manufacturers are embracing these new characteristics as they look to find the perfect balance in tyres for battery electric vehicles.
Here are some of the key characteristics manufacturers face:
Because range is so important the tyres must be made as aerodynamic as possible to reduce drag.
BEV tyres tend to be taller and slimmer than most petrol vehicle tyres in order to reduce the overall drag. You may have seen the skinny wheels on the BMW i3, these are much more narrow than standard tyres.
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 the road noise can become much more apparent, so noise must be kept to a minimum by using materials and a tyre design that can help make the cabin a comfortable and quiet space for passengers.
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. BEV tyres currently account for about 11% of Bridgestone’s total original equipment (OE) line-up for passenger cars. This is quite a jump up from just 4% in 2019, and this figure is expected to exceed 20% by 2024.
Interestingly, in 2021 50% of the top 10 BEV manufacturers globally chose Bridgestone fitments for their vehicles, so Bridgestone is making a wise investment it would seem.
In 2021 Goodyear announced the launch of a new tyre design, which has been optimized for electric cars, especially Tesla vehicles – and these will be the first to get the new tyres. They have 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. This tyre has been specially developed for the needs of electric vehicles. Size wise (225/55R19 XL 103Y) this tyre is designed for the front axle, while a wider (275/45R19 XL 108Y) tyre has been crafted for the rear.
The Ventus S1 evo 3 tyre has a multitude of technical refinements that bring the optimal performance of electronically driven sports cars onto the road.
Michelin Pilot Sport EV tyres were launched internationally in April last year and boast the following claims:
- Grip on dry and wet roads irrespective of the tyres level of wear, taking into account the higher weight and weight-distribution characteristics associated with electric sports cars.
- Resistance to wear in response to the high torque and acceleration forces of electric sports cars.
- The Michelin Pilot Sport EVs low rolling resistance extends range by up to 37 miles (nearly 60 km).
- 20% less perceptible road noise thanks to Michelin Acoustic technology, which takes the form of a custom-developed polyurethane foam that reduces cabin noise.
It’s quite clear that in order to be competitive legacy brands are shifting with the times, this is to remain competitive and relevant for both manufacturers seeking OEM parts and consumers looking for the best performance from their BEV.