THE VELVET TOUCH
Tires for hybrid and/or electric vehicles
Here is an overview of tires destined for hybrid and or full electric vehicles
The automobile market and the tire market are quickly evolving hand in hand. On the one hand futuristic prototypes and exhibition project aimed at anticipating the trends – airless, self-repairing or anti-puncture, with eco-friendly and totally recyclable compounds – and on the other hand products that have to meet the needs of the car industry, which requires fixed industrial standards, to support an industry that has to deal with restrictive anti-pollution regulations and technical specs aimed at reducing consumption and emissions.
An option is provided by hybrid engines, substantially consisting of a combustion engine coupled to one or more electric motors, installed under frames very similar to those of traditional passenger cars - when not perfectly identical – which are gaining a growing portion of the market . A temporary compromise waiting for that desired mass-distribution of full electric cars, generally smaller and lighter than traditional ones, and recent studies reveal that by 2020, 3 million full electric cars will be circulating on our roads, vehicles in which energy consumption is largely (30%) determined by tires.
Here is an overview of the latest models of tires able to support the demand for low resistance products, allowing, especially hybrid vehicles (combustion and electric motors operating independently or in tandem) to reduce fuel consumption and emissions, as well as improved mileage on full electric vehicles.
The Japanese giant unveiled its range in full force at the recent Geneva Motor Show, with the spotlight on its models intended for eco-friendly vehicles.
As far as full electric vehicles are concerned, the Ecopia EP500 is the tire used as original equipment on the BMW i3, produced with innovative ologic technology which provides for large diameters (19 and 20 inches) with narrow tread profiles (155 and 175 mm) able to combine high aerodynamic efficiency with reduced rolling resistance, while maintaining appreciable grip and handling in both dry and wet conditions.
Still marked Ecopia, the EP150 model is, however, best suited for hybrid cars, characterized by a reduced rolling resistance for greater energy saving while driving. Produced through the use of special Nano Pro-Tech compound technology, the special profile of the tread enhances grip with a saving of fuel around 3% compared to other Bridgestone models of equal size. Through the expansion of the available range, the Ecopia EP150 is currently available in sizes ranging between 165/65 R14 and 225/45 R17.
CONTINENTAL Conti e.Contact
One name for two distinct ranges, separated from each other by the rim diameter provided for each application, whether purely electric or hybrid. Already widely favored as original equipment on many different cars, such as Renault Twizzy and VW-Golf (Tesla for its Model S has preferred the Conti SportContact), Conti e.Contact range is characterized respectively by a 20% reduced rolling resistance compared to a conventional tire with diameters of 17 and 18 inches for hybrid vehicles, and a 30% reduction, through its 20” diameter, for the electric vehicles. Both e.Contact configurations are credited with the ability to extend mileage up to 6%, improving it even in the case of full electric drive. Definitely more conventional, the Conti e.Contact 17 and 18 inches can also be used as original equipment on big high performance sedans as well as most Sport Utility Vehicles equipped with hybrid systems in circulation today, available in sizes ranging between 215 and 255 mm in width, aspect ratio between 50 and 60 and speed codes V and W. On the other hand, characterized by a greater aerodynamic efficiency, the 20 inch e.Contact features a significantly reduced width, with a single-size of 195/55 R20, reducing rolling resistance and improving the mileage of the most widespread e-cars.
GOODYEAR EfficientGrip Performance
For the American tire maker, high efficiency is represented by the name EfficientGrip, of which the EfficientGrip Performance represents the most current evolution. Recently enlarged with eight new sizes, this range of tires offered by Goodyear covers a very wide spectrum, with 53 European BA classifications, and 8 new sizes with AA classification, for a total of almost 70 products available. Designed to provide superior performance in terms of grip through a tread profile that has a three-dimensional ActiveBreaking design, which increases the footprint during acceleration and braking, both longitudinal and transversal, and provides a better contact patch for maximum grip and reduced braking distance. The dual compound Wear Control Technology guarantees a lasting perfect balance between wet grip and rolling resistance, while the CoolCushion Layer 2 technology reduces heat generation to improve energy efficiency, both on hybrid and traditional cars. Speed codes H, V, W and Y (from 210 to 300 km / h) place the EfficientGrip Performance among High Performance and Ultra High Performance tires, also in Run-Flat versions.
MICHELIN Energy E-V
The French group’s first range designed exclusively for full electric vehicles, the Michelin Energy EV is a specific product with unique features, compared to a conventional tire, generating lower rolling heat and power dispersion. Sophisticated tread design and compounds guarantee lower rolling resistance, resulting in an energy saving that for an electric vehicle means a 6% increase in mileage. Michelin’s commitment to developing dedicated tires for electric vehicles is also evident in motorsport, including the FIA Formula E championship in which the French manufacturer is both partner and main supplier, with the Pilot Sport EV 18 " tire equipping these electric racing cars - developed in parallel with the current Energy E-V - and represents the perfect testing ground for technologies that will be used on future energy-saving tires.
Already used as original equipment on the electric Renault Zoe, thanks to the cooperation between the two French companies, the Energy E-V is currently offered in only two configurations, 185/65 R15 Q and 195/55 R16 Q respectively.
NOKIAN Hakkapeliitta R2
This overview would not be complete without a pure winter tire. And who but Nokian could offer a model specifically designed for electric cars? Made for equipping cars like the BMW i3 during the cold season, Nokian Tyres has developed the first winter tire with double European A classification, using Nokian eSilica technology to obtain a compound that guarantees perfect handling during a wide range of outdoor temperatures, even in the most extreme weather conditions, favoring grip and rolling resistance. With a narrow profile of 155/70 R19, adapted to the specs of a number of electric cars and able to guarantee a lower rolling resistance of up to 30%, the arrow-shaped tread pattern, with the characteristic sipes and angular tread blocks, typical of the entire Hakkapeliitta R2 range, are offered in the widest choice of sizes suited to equip hybrids ranging from city cars to maxi-SUV, with sizes going from 175/70 R13 to 285/30 R20.
PIRELLI Cinturato P1
The Cinturato P1 Verde is the model designed and distributed by Pirelli for small and medium-class cars - including hybrids - with low rolling resistance. Not exactly a novelty, as it has been on the market for a few years now, but the favorable market feedback reveals how customers have always appreciated it.
Developed in the same Pirelli Research and Development center in Milan where F1 racing tires are studied and developed, the Cinturato P1 Verde summarizes the experience gained by Pirelli through its eco-friendly "Green Performance" strategy, developed by researchers to ensure maximum performance with reduced fuel consumption. With the experience gained from designing the Cinturato P7, the P1, thanks to the reduced overall weight to benefit a reduction in rolling resistance, besides the typical handling qualities in dry and wet conditions as well as reduction in noise level, both externally and internally, receives high grades for its eco-friendliness. The size range is divided between the 155/65 R14 and 225/50 R17, with speed codes H, T, V and W, also in Run Flat version.
The latest model and the crown jewel of Yokohama’s BluEarth family is labelled AE-50 and is already the original equipment on a number of cars, even on hybrid cars sold in Europe. The greater smoothness of the AE-50 range combines qualities of grip in wet weather conditions with wet braking distances improved by 20% according to tests conducted by Yokohama’s test center. The core of this Japanese “human friendly” technology is in the special Nano Blend compound, made up of two different types of siliceous material with different properties, combined together to improve grip and reduce rolling resistance. The lightning bolt-shaped central grooves improve water drainage, ensuring greater stiffness around the tread blocks, while an anti-noise tread profile results in an appreciable driving smoothness, particularly noticeable when driving only with the help of the electric motor in hybrid cars. A great choice of sizes makes up the current range for this product, able to meet the needs of the most common hybrid cars, with sizes ranging from 195/60 R15 V to 245/45 R18W.