It was a mini-thunder of thunder that shook the mini-tire world. Against all odds, in mid-August, the giant Michelin was robbed, in part, of its place as Renault’s more or less privileged partner. In fact, 80% of the Megane e-tech electric tires will be supplied by Goodyear, at least as original equipment. The American will indeed equip all zero-emission diamond-shaped compacts equipped with 20-inch wheels, which are expected to make up the vast majority of cars sold. The Bibendum will be satisfied with the bare minimum: the 18-inch mounts.
Fewer parts and more tires
What happened ? Are Michelin tires of lower quality than Goodyear’s? A priori, and according to industry experts, the choice of Renault would be purely financial, and the products of the two brands would be of equivalent quality. But this case highlights a battle being fought behind the scenes. Because if manufacturers are in full electrical change, tire manufacturers are embarking on the same transformation. Above all, according to a prospective study by Fiev (Federation of Vehicle Equipment Industries), while auto parts sales could drop 30% after the switch to all-electric in 2035, there are two areas where the increase could reach the even evaluate. These are parts related to the suspension and our famous tires.
The result: the world of rubber is in turmoil and industry leaders struggle to capture a marginal market today, but a majority tomorrow. Michelin throws itself into the battle, especially as it has just overtaken its ancestral enemy Bridgestone to take the lead in the world market for combustion engines and is followed by its rival, of course, but also by Goodyear, which closes this top three. At the back of this rubber squad, other players like Continental or Hankook are also trying to carve a piece of cake that is billed as thicker than it is today.
But to win the future electric car jackpot, do the various manufacturers really need to develop specific tires? As we said, EVs consume more shock absorbers, springs and especially tires. Electric ones are heavier, have more torque than thermal ones and are quieter. Your tires should therefore be strong enough to withstand the weight and acceleration, but also quieter so only they can be heard.
Thus, leaders submit to the exercise. Michelin already has two specific tire ranges: the e-Primacy and the Pilot Sport EV. For its part, Bridgestone has been present in the electric market since the launch of the BMW i3 in 2013. As for Goodyear, it stands out. Its Efficient Grip Performance tire was not specially designed for watt cars, but its qualities make it so compatible with electric cars that it is highly recommended by experts and henceforth acquired by Renault.
But it’s not just leaders who are working to produce tires for electric generation. Hankook has just presented its new Ion range. This is followed by a first test of specific tires with the very complicated name of “Ventus S1 evo 3 EV”. The Korean has simplified the name and intends to have the same success as the first batch, as it already equips the Volkswagen ID4 or Tesla Model Y.
This race for electric tires is obviously far from over, but all manufacturers are aware of what is at stake in the next decade and the additional gain they can pocket. Because everyone expects to sell their tires more resistant and more efficient than the good old classic rubbers.
More expensive products, this is a well-known air in the automobile, as the price of cars continues to rise. The same phenomenon is likely to happen in the world of tires. Undoubtedly, this is why tire manufacturers closely study a formula that has been so successful in cars: the LOA, or even the definitive lease, especially since the wear of rubbers used in heavy cars can force owners to change them more often. Perhaps in the near future, we will no longer have our car or its tires.