Continental: EVs Need Special Tires

Electric vehicles and those that come with hybrid drive are built heavier than ICE cars. They churn more torque on the road while still being fairly quiet. They demand tires that can match up to their requirements without fail. The tires are supposed to be better and still boast of the traditional specs that have always made conventional tires great.

These specs include safety on dry and wet roads, short braking distances, precision steering, maximum mileage, low rolling resistance, and aquaplaning prevention. The folks at Continental Tire in Hanover have decided to take up the challenge. They are working on tires specifically designed for electric buses, cars, and trucks.

The increased weight in EVs can be attributed to the batteries used. They are normally heavier when compared to a full ICE tank. When you move over to hybrids, you get an electric motor, an engine, batteries, and a fuel tank on board. This makes them even heavier. Most tires will have an XL symbol on them to show that they have an increased load-bearing capacity on their carcass to help handle the increased weight.

Others will have higher load indices to help offset the additional weight. According to Andreas Schlenke, one of Continental’s tire development engineers, there are steps being taken within the industry to standardize tires that boast of higher load capacities. This may include incorporating an “XL+” symbol.

To help handle the wear that comes as a result of increased load, engineers are coming up with better tread patterns and compounds. By achieving a balanced ratio between different elements such as the weight of the tire, tread compounds, and the construction of the sidewalls, developers are able to achieve very low rolling resistance. Tires that are really tall and narrow, like those sized 205/65 R 22, are able to keep rolling resistance low courtesy of their large size alone.

All of these elements must be carefully measured and balanced to ensure the tires do not lose their safety properties. Considering how quiet electric cars and hybrid vehicles are on the road, minimizing tire/road noise is also essential. This can be achieved by including a type of foam inlay that Continental Tire calls ContiSilent technology.

Tires made for EVs do not look any different from your conventional road tire. They feature the same sidewall design and tread pattern. They also carry the same information on the sidewall. Also, since most EV and hybrid tires are OE versions, they must adhere to the standard and mandatory informational requirements. This includes an OE code as well.

Continental already supplies a lineup of tires that are designed to meet the needs of electric cars. The Conti Urban HA3 is a commercial tire that can serve line-service buses. In 2018, Continental also showcased a prototype it had designed for electric trucks. It had a specially designed sidewall and tread pattern.

This wasn’t the first tire that the company had released products for electric vehicles. Back in 2012, Continental released the Conti eContact which was approved for use in the Smart EQ Forfour. Other tires produced to serve hybrids and electric cars include the EcoContact 6 which comes with safe performance and low rolling resistance. It is a popular choice for hybrid and electric models. The SportContact 5 is also a popular tire. It is built for sporty electric cars like the Tesla Model S.

All in all, there are generally more than 100 Continental tire models designed and built for electric and hybrid vehicles.