Nokian Tires, the Scandinavian tire manufacturer, is working to develop premium tires for electric cars that meet the specific needs of consumers in this segment.
Electric cars usually have a fast acceleration and at the same time are heavier than cars with internal combustion engine (ICE) due to the batteries made of heavy metals. In addition, for heavier cars, stopping takes longer, so quality tires are essential for increased safety while driving.
In the last decade, electric and hybrid cars have shifted from a somewhat marginal segment of the international automotive industry to one of the fastest growing segments. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) *, at the end of 2020, the global share of electric cars increased to 2% of the car market. Although it may seem a small percentage in the global economy, it is important to specify that ten years ago the global share of this segment was close to zero. National variations in sales of electric cars in the EU are correlated with the standard of living of each country. According to new statistics from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA), the market share of electric vehicles has doubled – from 3.5% in the second quarter of 2020 to 7.5% this year – while vehicles plug-in hybrids accounted for 8.4% of all new cars sold.
These figures show a sustained growth in the market for electric and hybrid cars. As technology develops and electric vehicles become more common, the maintenance of electric cars is subject to change as well. For ICE vehicles, oil change and brake maintenance are the most common maintenance items. However, in the case of electric vehicles, the two major maintenance factors are tires and windows.
Premium tires for electric vehicles
Nokian Tires uses different models of electric vehicles in its tire tests, which gives it extensive expertise in the experience of using tires in electric vehicles.
Sports utility vehicles are tall and heavy, while electric vehicles are even heavier than normal due to batteries. Large and heavy vehicles require better tires, an aspect taken into account in product development.
Even when an electric or hybrid car is the same size as an internal combustion engine, it commonly uses larger tires. The tires are tested because the weight of the battery is an extra load when cornering and when the accelerator pedal is depressed, and the torque from the electric motor is transmitted to the drive wheels faster than in the case of an ICE vehicle. There is, however, a misconception about the increased wear of tires on electric cars. Field tests conducted by Nokian Tires proved to be no cause for concern. Although electric vehicles have a lot of power and high torque, they are not very demanding in terms of tires.
“The tires of a modern electric car will wear out much more slowly than in the case of a car with a traditional internal combustion engine. This is due to good traction control. Driver assistance systems reduce slippage due to the use of quick adjustment of the power of the electric motor. This system is much faster than ICE vehicles, which rely on braking and engine speed limitation. However, driving style remains the main factor contributing to tire wear and therefore the life of the tires is mainly determined by the driver, ”says Martin Dražík, Product Manager for Europe, Nokian Tires.
Tips for choosing the right tires for electric vehicles
When choosing tires for a hybrid or electric vehicle, the three most important criteria are usually safety, low rolling resistance and low noise. The reduced rolling resistance extends the range of the vehicle. Electric vehicles are quiet, and low noise improves driving comfort.
The EU tire label provides accessible information on noise levels and rolling resistance, making it easier to compare different tires.
The reduced rolling resistance also extends the range of the vehicle. The greater the autonomy, the less electricity is needed, resulting in a more environmentally friendly driving. The environmental benefits are the main expected effect in the widespread use of electric vehicles.
Nokian Tires products have a Safety Indicator (DSI) that can be used to quickly and easily check tread depth. As the tires wear out, the DSI numbers begin to fade. If this number is different on the front and rear axles, the tires should be rotated.
The three most important criteria for tires suitable for electric vehicles
- Safety: the most important thing is to take into account the driving environment and choose the tires accordingly.
- Reduced rolling resistance: the lower the rolling resistance, the greater the range.
- Low noise: choosing quiet tires for a quiet electric vehicle will improve driving comfort.