As carmakers bring new electrified vehicles to market, tire manufacturers must innovate and keep up.
The automotive world is going electric and tire companies, like Pirelli, are innovating in order to bring to market new products that cater to the needs of electrified vehicles.
“In 2020, three out of 10 premium/prestige vehicles produced were EVs, and 13% of the total number of vehicles produced worldwide made the switch from internal combustion,” explains Pirelli Tire President and CEO Ernest Bedia. “By 2025, we expect roughly 90% of premium/prestige vehicles, and 50% of the total market to be electrified.”
Requirements & features
Electric vehicles have particular needs, and EV-specific tires offer a number of advantages. “Prioritization is low rolling resistance,” Bedia says, “because it increases driving range while reducing the carbon footprint.”
Noise is also an issue. “In electric cars, the engine is no longer the primary source of noise, so reducing sound frequencies produced by the tires is key to increasing driving comfort,” Bedia adds.
In addition, electric vehicles produce a lot of torque, instantly, and need tires that can handle the added stress.
Weight and load index
Since EVs are generally heavier than an equivalent-sized, conventionally-powered vehicle, EV-specific tires are designed to support the extra weight.
“We had to introduce a new load index (HL) to be able to support the weight of these vehicles,” Bedia explains. “The Lucid Air was the very first car to use the new Pirelli HL tires.”
Pirelli’s EV tires come with an “Elect” marking on the sidewall to distinguish them from other products in the Pirelli lineup. “Let’s take into consideration our latest EV product, the P Zero All Season Plus Elect,” Bedia says. “Compared to a non-Elect product, it improves rolling resistance by 15%, which directly improves driving range and battery life.”
Pirelli intends to remain a leader in the tire market even as global trends shift, and they’re paying particular attention to the needs of Canadian vehicle owners. “We are excited to have just launched the WeatherActive product line, our first 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake certified all-weather tire for the North American market,” Bedia says. “It will allow SUV/CUV, light truck and passenger car customers to drive confidently in difficult winter conditions while benefiting from a quieter tire and better performance on wet roads in warmer weather.”
The WeatherActive joins Pirelli’s growing portfolio of new products, including the Scorpion and P7 AS Plus 3 and the P Zero All-Season Plus Elect. The latter features Pirelli’s Noise Cancelling System (PNCS), a technology designed to reduce interior vehicle noise with a sound-absorbing material applied to the inside circumferential wall of the tire.
“Moving forward, we are focused on being leaders in electrification in the automotive industry, as well as with in-vehicle electronics,” Bedia says. “That’s why we’re developing sensors affixed to tires that can provide information about the condition of each tire to the automaker and the consumer. I believe the future of Pirelli is to continue evolving towards digitalization, as we are demonstrating today in partnership with a number of innovative vehicle manufacturers.”