Hankook commits to electric vehicle tire technology

Hankook commits to electric vehicle tire technology

With demand for electric vehicles (EV) increasing worldwide, Hankook has committed itself to developing top tire technology to meet the unique challenges posed by the EV market.

A growing and dynamic market

As of 2015, the number of registered electric vehicles worldwide was 1.26 million – a number that is increasing steadily and is expected to continue to climb, with marked demand and sales coming from the U.S., China, Japan and Europe.

Hankook Tire is already supplying OE to Mercedes Benz C350e, Hyundai Sonata PHEV, and its Enfren Eco to the Ford C-MAX Energi (PHEV) but intends to expand its OE supply deals. Currently Hankook’s EV tires are primarily produced at its Geumsan plant in South Korea and at the Jiaxing Plant in China, although the company is considering using its Hungary plant for EV tire production.

The challenges of developing EV tires

As the electric vehicle industry continues to evolve, and with the recent introduction of the electric motor, there are changes to how a car will steer, brake, accelerate and sound. This presents an interesting challenge to tire companies as they work to develop a tire that works with the car.

Two major issues are the weight of the EV’s battery and its low mileage range, so the EV tire needs to have low rolling resistance and use high strength material which must be applied structurally. There’s also the issue of noise; EVs are quieter than regular vehicles, so producing a tire with low road noise is a big deal.

EV tires also need to be designed specifically to handle an EV’s driving characteristics, like fast acceleration and high torque, which mean the center part of the tire can experience abrasion due to tire slip. The shorter mileage ranges, quieter cabins, and heavier curb weight because of the lithium ion batteries are issues that would overwhelm a tire fitted on regular vehicles, so new technology is needed.

Hankook says it is implementing customized technology development strategies to address the differences in the current EV market. While HEV (Hybrid Electronic Vehicle) and PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electronic Vehicle) models are tackled with the same technology of general automobiles in reducing rolling resistance, BEV (Battery Electronic Vehicle) models need to be equipped with different technologies.

Hankook’s Enfren Eco

Hankook Tire has already paired its Enfren Eco with eco-friendly vehicles such as the Ford C-MAX. The Enfren Eco combines technologies including a special silica compound and structural design to minimize energy loss and optimize fuel efficiency.

With the average volume of a standard fuel tank being 13 gallons, the difference of the Enfren Eco tire’s fuel consumption between class 1 fuel efficiency and class 5 is approximately 3.8 miles per gallon. It allows drivers to travel approximately 50 miles farther with only one fuel charge and the tire has shown good performance in reducing CO₂ emissions. The Enfren Eco is available in 21 different sizes and accommodates almost all passenger car models on the market.

The importance of “green technologies”

Hankook Tire says its drive to create new and better tires for the EV industry is symptomatic of its commitment to developing green technology and environmentally-friendly products.

“We understand green technology promotes the coexistence between humans and nature,” Hankook said. “It continues to be a global trend for the future mobility market and we are actively participating. We are continuing to help drive the development of green technology in the tire industry. Through both product development and OE partnerships, we are producing eco-friendly tires and further developing green technology.”

The Enfren Eco was recently rated AAA in rolling resistance through its “low fuel consumption tire labeling system” by the Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association and the tire was also recognized with a Green Star certification, which evaluates eco-friendly technology.

Find out more about the tire here.

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