DETROIT (Jan. 13, 2010)—Embracing the electrified theme of this year's North American International Auto Show, Michelin unveiled a concept tire for electric vehicles it claims addresses the distinct performance demands of such vehicles while still delivering maximum grip and long tread life.
Electric vehicles require tires designed specifically to handle the higher low-end torque that electric motors generate, Michelin said, while also creating the need for lighter weight, lower rolling resistance and reduced noise generation.
In order to minimize rolling resistance, Michelin's EV prototype tire has a relatively large rim diameter and is relatively narrow, thereby reducing energy consumption since there is less front rubber in the contact patch. Michelin did not publish the tire's dimensions.
Moreover, the larger diameter combined with a low profile helps reduce energy consumption because the tire turns fewer times when covering a given distance, Michelin said. This results in less deformation and heat build up, resulting in additional energy savings.
Michelin claims the EV concept tire offers a reduction in rolling resistance vs. its best conventional tire by up to 15 percent.
At the same time, the company said, the larger diameter means more rubber in the tread, thereby increasing total mileage and reducing overall operating costs.
Even aerodynamics play a role in extending the range of an electric vehicle without compromising handling or safety, Michelin said, noting that the size and shape of the tire-wheel assembly must be taken into account.
To achieve the desired performance qualities, Michelin said its engineers employed the latest silica-based tread compounds, a new tire profile designed specifically for urban use and a tread design optimizing the surface of rubber in contact with the road.