Home Cover Story Ev Makes A Mark On Tyre Industry

Ev Makes A Mark On Tyre Industry

Ev Makes A Mark On Tyre Industry

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Last updated: March 20, 2024
by and Alex Morrell is a senior correspondent at Business Insider covering Wall Street at large.

The Government of India and Indian automotive industry’s vision plan referred to as ‘Automotive Mission Plan 2016-26 – AMP 2026’ highlights that the automotive industry with a growth at CAGR of 13 to 15 per cent will have an output of Rs 16,160 billion and Rs 18,895 billion in 2026. The tyre industry being an integral part of the automotive industry is likely to follow the same growth trajectory and is expected to reach RS 2,074-2,423 billion in the next 10 years. This article tracks impact of electric vehicles on Indian tyre industry.

The tyre industry in India is estimated to grow by nine to 11 per cent in unit volume. Tyre design and manufacturing have evolved along with automobiles over the decades and the current electric vehicle (EV) phenomenon promises to be a significant step in this evolution.

There are significant performance and operating differences between the internal combustion engine-powered (ICE) vehicles and the new EVs. All tyres are expected to deliver high performance and a long lifecycle. Tyres are a critical component to overall vehicle performance. Differences in torque, mass, size, and performance needs of various vehicle models affect tyre performance and longevity. Additionally, electric car design is largely geared toward extending driving range on a single charge. With over 200 variables involved in tyre design, including tread design, material selection, manufacturing process, construction, and sidewall design, optimizing tyre performance is a constant challenge to tyre companies.

Ideal Environment for EVs

The combination of increasing regulations to reduce emissions, the desire to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and rapid gains in battery technology is creating an ideal environment for electric vehicles. Tyre manufacturers in India are working closely with the associations in collaboration to develop sustainable technologies and build tyres for EV.

“Anyone who drives an EV first notices how virtually silent is the power-train, which means that tyres need to be quiet since the lack of engine noise won’t cover up any road noise. Usually, minimising tread gaps where sound waves could bounce around seems to help in reducing tyre noise. Individual block and groove sizes need to be optimised to find the perfect compromise for noise reduction,” believes Vinit Bansal, Founder & MD, EV Motors.

He also stated that electric cars are heavy, typically about 20 per cent heavier than a comparable ICE-powered vehicle and this can also accelerate wear and hurt handling. A conventional tyre can wear 30 per cent quicker on an EV than on an internal-combustion vehicle, so putting more rubber on the road with a tighter tread pattern and using a harder-wearing rubber compound helps. Tyre sidewalls need to be strengthened in order to cope with the extra vehicle weight.

Unlike in the case of ICE vehicles, in an EV maximum torque is produced from the get-go. This faster acceleration scrubs the tread and makes it wear more quickly. Therefore, EV tyres need to be more durable than the ICE vehicle tyres.

Tyres for EVs are a carefully crafted compromise for every vehicle, a compromise that emphasizes some attributes over others, because you can’t have it all. Great-handling tyres have poor durability. Durable tyres are noisy. Quiet tyres suffer from poor handling. The EV manufacturers have challenged the tyre industry to make tyres that have low rolling resistance, low noise, but can still handle the instant torque of an electric motor.

Naman Chopra, Founder and CEO, Rexnamo Automotive, shares, “For EVs, range is also crucial, and tyres need to play their part in squeezing every mile from every watt. A sticky tyre would grip road better and thus better handle the instant torque of an electric motor, but will sap the car’s electric range due to high rolling resistance. Likewise, a tyre that is durable enough to handle the instant torque will likely be a loud tyre.”

Chopra continues, “So, tyre engineers juggle more than 200 variables—rubber compounds, construction methods, sidewall design, belt arrangement, tread design, groove width, and so on—to find the best combination for a given manufacturer and model. Tyre manufacturers strive to create customised compounds and construction that stiffens tyre without degrading comfort. Some EV tyres also are self-sealing in the event of a puncture, eliminating the need for a spare or even an inflation kit. That saves weight, which also helps boost range.”

Bansal points out, “Acoustics are another important factor in the tyres’ design—down to tweaking tread patterns, block sizes, and groove widths to minimise noise. The Michelin energy saver A/S tyres come with Chevrolet Bolt EV, are custom built specifically for that car. No doubt, tyres for EV’s are going to be different in one more key aspect: they are probably going to be more expensive!”
Groove and width play a vital role in offering efficiency. It also depends on the terrain of road in the region. Soft or even roads can work with less groove and width to offer increased duel or power efficiency but if the terrain is uneven or mountainous the tyres will need groove and width for better grip.

Bansal says “Regular city tires offered by major tyre manufacturers have capacity to offer efficiency in city operational limits. Further, these tyres will only need to comply with requirement of handling heavy weight.”

Apart from new development of EV tyres, industry also has other challenges to cope with.

Coping slowdown: The Indian tyre industry, affected by the slowdown, continues to operate smartly and drive a robust de-risking strategy by looking at non-auto segments like off-highway and OTR tyres among other avenues. Driving their R&D departments to look at efficient and cost competitive products amid considerable fluctuation in raw materials prices and their availability, the tyre industry continues to innovate. With tyre makers like JK Tyre continuing to invest in building capabilities at the R&D level as well as the operations level, the tyre industry is well-poised to tackle the challenges that are coming their way.

Changed requirements: The announcement of new axle norms in the CV segment led to a change in the tyre requirements. Axle load specifications of CVs went up, necessitating a need to change tyre configurations. Laying stress on setting new standards in a challenging environment, the tyre industry was quick to team up with OEMs and come out with trucks that address the operator needs in-line with the new axle norms. The tyre industry also went to work with OEMs and bus body builders to help address the changing requirements of the respective industry in the case of tyres on counts like wear resistance, grip, comfort, noise, etc. Moderating costs despite rising raw material prices, the tyre manufacturers are working closely with trade partners to deepen market presence and graduate from product sale to consumer solutions.

“For EVs, range is also crucial, and tyres need to play their part in squeezing every mile from every watt. A sticky tyre would grip road better and thus better handle the instant torque of an electric motor, but will sap the car’s electric range due to high rolling resistance. Likewise, a tyre that is durable enough to handle the instant torque will likely be a loud tyre.”.

Naman Chopra, Founder and CEO, Rexnamo Automotive

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