January 8th, 2021

With Electric Trucks, a Tire Is Not Just a Tire

Long dominated by a handful of large original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the truck landscape is changing. While the traditional brand names remain the leaders of the pack, new entrants are eyeing market share as they develop zero-emission, electric trucks.

Entering 2021, the electrification of the trucking industry remains in its infancy. There are only a small number of Class 8 electric vehicles (EVs) operating in real-world conditions, predominantly in drayage activity. Smaller electric delivery vehicles are also operating in urban areas.

However, an increasing number of fleets are running pilot programs with OEMs, collecting critical performance data while moving freight using battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell and hybrid technologies. Multiple OEMs have begun taking orders for their initial fully electric heavy-duty and medium-duty models, with production scheduled to begin in 2021.

The EV trend in commercial trucking has a lot to do with the potential for lowering total cost of ownership in certain applications. More and more, though, companies are pledging to meet sustainability targets, with some tech adoption fueled simply by regulation requiring further carbon emissions reductions.

The increasing focus on sustainability is shining a light on the role that tires play in the equation. Research from Emissions Analytics, an independent emissions testing and data firm, found that emissions of tire wear particles can be 1,000 times worse for the environment than what comes out of a vehicle’s exhaust. The study found because exhaust emissions are regulated across the globe, particulate matter from tire and brake wear makes up a larger share of vehicle emissions.

In addition, with rolling resistance accounting for up to one-third of a trucks’ overall energy consumption, it makes choosing the correct tires for each truck – and keeping them properly inflated – more important than ever.¹ That is why most tire makers are developing new commercial tires designed specifically for electric vehicles, adding yet another layer of complexity for fleets.

This is exactly where Aperia’s Halo Connect platform of active inflation plus machine learning drives unique benefits. It improves vehicle efficiency by ensuring every tire is properly inflated. It reduces downtime by alerting fleets to potential problems before they become more serious and helping them determine the best tire for each truck.

How Electric Trucks Impact Tires

Tests have shown that traditional tires can wear out up to 30% faster on electric vehicles, due to the powerful torque from electric motors, and the added weight from battery packs.²

The differences with electric trucks require greater attention to a tire’s tread pattern to avoid irregular wear. Manufacturers are altering tread designs in various ways, including using thinner sipes to allow for more rubber on the road in order to handle the torque.

They are also crafting special compounds to lower rolling resistance further, and cutting weight to ensure electric vehicles can maximize range and reach their destinations without running out of power.

While these issues are fairly similar to what fleets have to balance when making tire decisions on their existing vehicles, one new area that requires special consideration with electric trucks is noise.

The near-silent motors mean these vehicles are much quieter than those with traditional internal combustion engines – making excessive tire noise a new problem to solve. To reduce noise and provide drivers a more comfortable ride, tire makers are experimenting with tread designs that reduce groove-level vibration and air displacement, and adding foam to tires.

How Halo Connect Can Assist

It’s clear that investing in zero-emission electric vehicles will be a critical step in the coming years to reduce emissions, but they will not be widely adopted if they do not deliver competitive sustainability and financial benefits.

The expected lifetime value of these more expensive trucks will immediately begin eroding in the absence of fleets choosing the right tires – and ensuring they are properly inflated at all times. Any benefits will also be lost if tire underinflation and related maintenance issues cause unplanned downtime.

Especially as tires continue to become more specialized, Halo Connect offers fleets a critical, low-cost tool, deployable overnight, to help extend tire life and get the most out of every mile, regardless of a vehicle’s power source.

To learn more about Aperia and Halo Connect contact us at info@aperiatech.com.

¹ Low Rolling Resistance Tires Confidence Report Updated
² GOODYEAR presents new tire technology

#NewTireTechnology #ElectricTrucks #EV