What are EV tires, why are they important and who makes them? The Electric Autonomy Canada EV Tire Guide answers these essential questions
When transitioning from a gas-powered to electric vehicle, there are several performance differences owners should be aware of — from adjusting to charging versus gassing up to choosing tires that will enhance rather than hinder the vehicle’s performance.
Electric vehicle tires differ from tires for combustion vehicles because they are built to accommodate the additional weight of an electric powertrain and designed to reduce road noise and improve range. But, like conventional tires, they are also required to meet the same expectations for safety on wet and dry roads, braking distances, steering precision and more.
As more automakers move towards developing full EV lineups, tire makers are simultaneously creating innovative new products to support their needs. The global EV tire market reached US$40 billion in 2021. It is forecasted to grow to US$161.6 billion by 2030 at a compound annual growth rate of 16.78 per cent, according to a report by Precedence Research.
To highlight what EV tires are currently available to Canadian drivers, Electric Autonomy has gathered information on what tire manufacturers are offering to their EV clients for our first EV Tire Guide.
Michelin, one of the most globally recognizable tire manufacturing companies, now offers a growing list of EV-compatible tires for different conditions and usages.
Introduced to the North American market in late 2021, Michelin’s first purpose-built tire made for EVs is the Pilot Sport EV. As founding partners of Formula E and the official tire suppliers for the teams and competitors of the race (until the 2022 season), Michelin took the experience gained designing tires to fit the needs of high-performing sports cars and adopted it in EV tires made for normal road cars.
The first example of that real-world application, the Pilot Sport, is an all-season tire that comes standard on some models of Tesla vehicles rolling off the factory line.
The Pilot Sport EV tires have ElectricGrip Compound technology, which features a hard compound for the centre of the tread of the wheel to provide enough grip required to handle an EV’s high torque.
The tire manufacturer also uses custom-developed polyurethane foam in its Pilot Sport tires to help muffle sounds and reduce road noise by 20 per cent. The company said in a press release that the tires promise “optimal grip” on wet and dry roads and low rolling resistance that can extend the vehicle’s range.
The latest generation of the Pilot Sport EV tire comes in 16 sizes and the price ranges from $248.99 to $796.99.
The Italian multinational tire manufacturer Pirelli introduced its line of tires specifically designed for EVs, called Pirelli Elect, in 2019.
The Porsche Taycan and the Ford Mustang Mach-E GT come out of the factory with Pirelli Elect tires, with the former being the first EV to use tires with Elect branding.
In March 2022, the company released P Zero All Season Plus with Elect branding in North America. They are Pirelli’s first “replacement tires” — which are tires that can also fit a vehicle once the original tires need replacing — specifically designed for EVs. Some Teslas are now coming out of the factory with the P Zero.
Pirelli says that its Elect-branded tires provide three main advantages. These include 15 per cent lower rolling resistance compared to non-Elect products, which boosts driving range and improves battery life; Pirelli Noise Cancelling System technology which reduces noise and highlights the quietness inside the cabin; and immediate grip to take advantage of instant torque in an EV.
“Developing a tire specifically for electric vehicles requires a number of considerations you do not encounter when working with internal combustion engines,” said Ian Coke, chief technical officer at Pirelli North America in the press statement announcing the launch of the P Zero All Season Plus tire. “Electric vehicles are heavier, have more powerful and faster acceleration off the line and require lower rolling resistance.”
For winter driving, Pirelli also offers Elect versions of the P Zero Winter tires as well as the Winter Sottozero 3 and Scorpion Winter tires for electric and hybrid vehicles.
The P Zero All Season Plus tire prices start at $165.
Continental’s first tire released specifically for electric vehicles was the Conti.eContact in 2012. The company has since been adding new models to its product lineup to meet the needs of electric cars and hybrids.
For instance, says the company, the EcoContact 6 tire strikes a balance between low rolling resistance, high grip, and durability and can handle the increased weight of EVs. The SportContact 5 tires from Continental are another energy-efficient option for EVs. They cater to sportier electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S.
Continental manufactures about 100 tire models suitable for both EVs and hybrids, making it one of the largest EV tire makers in the market.
“At its core, tire development is about optimization in a triangle of safety, efficiency and comfort,” says Continental in a press release. “All of Continental’s current tire lines are designed for use on e-cars and to optimize their range. At the same time, they are also capable of sustainably reducing the energy consumption of combustion vehicles.”
The EcoContact 6 costs between $294.33 to $590.49 and the SportContact 5 tires are $220.59 to $733.57.
Goodyear debuted its all-season ElectricDrive GT tire designed for EVs as the company’s first EV replacement tires for North America in December last year.
The tires are equipped with Goodyear’s SoundComfort Technology, which, the company says, works as a built-in sound barrier to road noise. The tires also feature an asymmetric tread pattern and specialized tread compound that helps with traction in all weather conditions.
Goodyear says it worked to design and produce the specialized EV tire because it wanted to meet the needs of EV owners who want long-lasting wear without sacrificing performance
“With the continued growth in the EV segment, Goodyear recognized an opportunity to provide consumers with a tire designed for the unique needs of these vehicles,” said Andrew Lau, product marketing manager at Goodyear, in a press note.
The price for the ElectricDrive GT tire ranges from $279.06 to $371.24.
In September, Goodyear also launched the new Goodyear ElectricDrive all-season tire. It has all the same features as the ElectricDrive GT, but is engineered with a load index to account for the heavier EV battery.
The company also created two tire models, Endurance RSA ULT and Fuel Max RSA ULT, designed exclusively for fleets of electric last-mile delivery vehicles. The tires were made to handle the higher load capacity of electric commercial vehicles.
Under its Dunlop brand, tire maker Sumitomo Rubber Industries first line of tires specifically made for EVs is known as the Dunlop e.Sport Maxx.
“In developing tires for EV, we focused in particular on pursuing the best possible performance in terms of fuel (energy) efficiency and noise reduction,” says Sumitomo in a press note.
“By drawing upon our advanced materials development technology to fine-tune rubber compounds, we succeeded in developing tires that not only rank among our most fuel (energy) efficient tires to date but also balance this with superior wet performance and steering stability.”
The release of the e.Sport Maxx is in line with Sumitomo’s long-term sustainability policies described in its Driving Our Future Challenge 2050 report. By improving the mileage of EVs while also reducing the amount of resources used when building the tires, the company says its closer to achieving its carbon neutrality goals.
Sumitomo plans to introduce its next EV tire, the Falken e.Ziex, in Europe in 2023 and will be looking to expand their EV tire offerings in other regions in the coming years.
Sailun Tire Group is launching its new flagship tire line Erange EV in 2023. The Erange tires will include the company’s proprietary EcoPoint liquid phase mixing technology, which will create reduced rolling resistance to enable the vehicles to travel longer distances on a single charge.
Along with less rolling resistance, the company says its tires have good wear resistance and wet grip performance while delivering a quiet and comfortable driving experience.
The tire’s innovative tread patterns and carefully designed rubber compounds will be able to manage the instant torque of EVs for a longer tread life and improved performance. In order to accommodate the higher weight of car batteries, the tires also have increased load-bearing capacity.
“We’re thrilled to officially launch EcoPoint and see a project come to life after several years in development,” says Ron Dolan, president of Sailun Tire Americas, in a press release at the time.
“EcoPoint is a game changer for the tire industry both for the quality of tires it will produce but also in the way tires are made moving forward. EcoPoint sets Sailun products apart from other tire manufacturers and will set a new standard for the tire industry in global sustainability in the automotive space.”
South-Korean tire manufacturer, Hankook unveiled last year its new brand of iON tires, developed exclusively for EVs. The full line-up of the iON branded tires includes the iON evo, iON evo AS SUV and the iON winter tires.
Earlier this month, Hankook announced the launch of the iON evo and iON evo AS SUV in the US. The tires are expected to be made available in Canada in Q2 2023.
The tires are built with its “EVolution” technology composed of high-concentration silica and eco-friendly materials to help extend tire life. The tire’s compound also helps reduces rolling resistance, enhance battery life and extend EV range.
“The North American EV segment is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the automotive industry,” said Rob Williams, senior vice president, of North America Sales, Hankook Tire America Corp in a press note.
“The iON evo AS and iON evo AS SUV demonstrate Hankook’s industry-leading research and development to create tires that are designed, from the ground up, for the unique needs of EVs. At a time when more drivers are making the switch to electric, these tires are built to deliver the very best in mileage, comfort, and performance for EVs that drivers have come to expect from Hankook’s range of tires.”
In 2020, Hankook Tire was selected by the FIA World Motor Sport Council to provide tires to Gen 3 vehicles of the Formula E World Championship in 2023, replacing Michelin.
As one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers, Japan-based Bridgestone announced at the end of last year that it would be “investing in its tire development to pioneer premium tires and tire technologies that answer the unique challenges introduced by EVs.”
According to the company, all of its replacement tires for passenger cars, trucks and buses can already be fitted into electric vehicles and hybrids. But the company wants to develop new premium tire technologies to meet the unique challenges of electric mobility (low rolling resistance to save battery life, for instance) and address consumer range anxiety.
Additionally, the company developed the R192E all-position radial tire, which was introduced earlier this year exclusively for use on electric buses. According to Bridgestone, the R192E tire is compatible with all bus models and has ultra-low rolling resistance and high load capacity. This allows buses to operate longer routes on a single charge.
“Electric buses will play a crucial role in eliminating city-center emissions and traffic congestion, which is why we are proud to introduce the first Bridgestone commercial tire developed for electric buses,” said Chris Ripani, president, commercial truck, Bridgestone Americas in a press statement.
“The Bridgestone R192E is not only an innovative tire solution but a leading example of how Bridgestone is taking steps to reduce CO2 emissions and contribute to a more sustainable world through its products, services and solutions.”
A spokesperson for Bridgestone told Electric Autonomy in an email that the company “does not typically share pricing information.”
Known for producing winter tires, Nokian’s studded Nokian Tyres Hakkapeliitta 10 EV and non-studded Hakkapeliitta R5 EV are the company’s first tires built for just EVs and hybrid vehicles.
The studded tires, with a starting price of $370.46, are designed to provide sturdy handling on snow, ice and rain with extra grip to compensate for the added weight of EVs. They include Nokian’s SilentDrive Technology which absorbs noises.
The centre studs enhance braking and accelerating grip, while the studs on the shoulder areas boost traction during turning and lane changes.
The Hakkapeliitta R5 EV (non-studded) features Nokian’s Green Trace compound, which provides “excellent winter grip,” improved mileage and reduced rolling resistance, says the company. It was created with a smaller carbon footprint in mind. Starting price is $347.69.