The ongoing electrification of commercial vehicles involves a number of changes and new technical requirements. One oft-forgotten element of this is the matter of tires. Fitted on electric vehicles, these must not only withstand significantly larger loads than before, but also exhibit lower rolling resistance and still be just as long-lasting as the tires on conventional vehicles. On the one hand, this requires innovation on the part of tire manufacturers and, on the other, the development of new tire types presents a great opportunity for electric vehicles to be driven in a manner that is more cost-effective and sustainable.


Normal tires unsuitable in the long term


It is indeed possible to equip electric vehicles with conventional tires temporarily. “However, the new powertrains and the new vehicle concepts that these entail will change the requirements regarding commercial vehicle tires,” observed Klaus Kreipe, head of Truck Tires Original Equipment at Continental.


The enormous weight of the batteries in electric commercial vehicles means increased wheel loads and different centers of gravity. And because electric motors generally do not require a transmission and can produce a lot of acceleration in the lower speed range, the tires must be able to withstand full torque from a standstill.


It is also important to keep energy consumption to a minimum, especially in view of the current ranges of fully electric commercial vehicles. A low rolling resistance makes a major contribution to this. Finally, such tires should also be long-lasting enough to meet the sustainability requirements of modern electric concepts.


Continental presents its revolutionary tires for electric buses in urban traffic


Today, electric buses are already on the road in German cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Munich. Other cities are planning their total switchover to electric buses – for example, a fleet of as many as 221 electric buses is set to be purchased in Wiesbaden. To respond to the pressure to provide suitable tire innovations for this future market, Continental has now developed the Conti Urban HA3 for electric buses. As the first tire of its kind, it should set new benchmarks for the further development of tires for electric commercial vehicles.


According to manufacturers, the Conti Urban HA3 has a carrying capacity of eight metric tons on all axles. A high natural rubber content should ensure a long tire life with even and slow wear. In addition to optimal handling and ideal grip for high ride comfort, the tire is perfect for use all year round according to Continental. “Thanks to its balanced performance profile, it offers a safe, comfortable and profitable solution to facilitate electromobility in demanding stop-and-go traffic,” explained Lutz Stäbner, product manager at Continental, with satisfaction.


The development of further tire models for commercial vehicles with electric powertrains will initially focus on urban traffic and short distances, in line with demand. The focus here is split between electric buses and trucks, which are already being tested successfully in many European markets. Whether in passenger transport, urban distribution transport or soon on international transit routes too, the future belongs to electric commercial vehicles. And they will always be in need of the right set of tires.