Continental is expanding its market share in the tyre segment for fully electric vehicles. In 2020, six of the world’s ten highest-volume manufacturers of electric vehicles relied on the high technological expertise of the premium tyre manufacturer for their original equipment. These included Tesla with its Model 3 and Model S and Volkswagen with the ID.3. Also Asian manufacturers, for example BYD, one of China’s largest car producers, rely on Continental tyres as original equipment for their electric vehicles. This underpins the product strategy and quality of the company’s products in the electromobility segment.
“Fully electric models are now available from almost all car segments, from cabin scooters, small and mid-size cars to SUVs and high-performance sports cars. Individual tyre configurations are required for each vehicle type,” says Andreas Schlenke, tyre developer at Continental. “This means there isn’t just one tyre for all fully electric vehicles. In fact, we have already been working for over a decade on developing our existing portfolio so that they meet the requirements of all electric vehicles and, at the same time, are able to sustainably reduce emissions from combustion vehicles as well. Meanwhile, almost our entire range of tyres is optimised for all drive types and the majority of our products can be found on electric vehicles today.” For those electric vehicles that are not already equipped with Continental tyres from the factory, the manufacturer now has the equivalent summer, winter or all-season tyre in its portfolio for almost every model.
Tyres from the entire Continental product portfolio in use
According to investigations by Continental, tyres account for up to 20 percent of the total resistance faced by a vehicle. Consequently, customers can gain additional range thanks to tyres with optimised rolling resistance. Low rolling resistance tyres are therefore in particular demand for electric cars that focus on efficient driving. In this case, many manufacturers rely on the EcoContact 6, in which Continental uses the Green Chili 2.0 rubber compound. The special compound of natural rubber and other components shows significantly improved behaviour during mechanical deformation. This results in lower rolling resistance and therefore lower energy consumption.
When developing the EcoContact 6, Continental was able to reduce rolling resistance by 15 percent compared with its predecessor.
Suppliers of medium and high-priced vehicles place other demands on the choice of tyres. Handling, steering precision and safety at high speeds are more important here. Corresponding manufacturers have opted for tyres from the PremiumContact or SportContact series. With the PremiumContact 6, Continental offers a balance between efficiency, sportiness and comfort. The SportContact 6 on the other hand is a tyre for the high-performance segment with a focus on handling, steering precision, stability, grip and braking performance.
“The development of tyres is always a technical conflict of objectives,” explains Schlenke. “For example, a high rolling resistance can result in greater safety, but also higher energy consumption. Therein lies the skill of our engineers to improve both attributes at the same time.”
The engine noise is no longer present, so electric car drivers attach greater importance to low rolling noise. Manufacturers of high-end vehicles with a high level of comfort therefore also use ContiSilent technology when it comes to their choice of tyres. A special foam layer absorbs the vibrations of the road which reduces the transmission of noise into the vehicle interior. This is particularly important for electric vehicles, as there is no engine noise and the electric motor runs very quietly.