Less noise, more range: why Michelin is developing EV-only tyres

28 Jun 2022

While the McMurtry Spiérling electric hypercar was breaking speed records at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last month, another electric car, being driven rather more sedately, was lapping the Sussex venue’s race circuit to showcase a new range of tyres specially created by Michelin for sporty EVs.

Called Pilot Sport EV, the new tyre is not the first for an electric car that Michelin has produced. That honour goes to the Energy EV, the tyre the company made for the original Renault Zoe. However, it is the first it has designed for today's emerging generation of high-performance electric cars.  

Available in wheel sizes ranging from 19 to 22 inches and costing from around £266, the Pilot Sport EV features what Michelin calls its GreenPower compound on its shoulders to boost driving range by a claimed 10% compared with the company's existing Pilot Sport tyre.

It also contains a polyurethane band of acoustic foam to reduce 'cavity noise' between the top of the tyre and the wheel arch for a quieter drive. In addition, what Michelin calls its MaxTouch construction optimises the tyre's contact with the road to evenly distribute the forces of acceleration, braking and cornering. 

Jamie McWhir, technical account manager at Michelin responsible for the company's UK tyre development, said: “Drivers of electric cars are very attuned to their vehicle's range and keen to increase it where possible. Because EVs are very quiet, they're also conscious of tyre noise. The new tyre has been formulated to satisfy drivers on both measures.

“It has been formulated to wear well, too. However, we don't believe tyre wear is necessarily any worse on an EV than on an equally heavy petrol or diesel car. Braking, a major cause of tyre wear on any car, is more progressive when it's regenerative, too. An EV's rapid acceleration can be more aggressive on tyres but in most situations, EVs increase their speed in a controlled way.”

To demonstrate the effectiveness of its new tyre, Michelin provided a Hyundai Ioniq 5, Move Electric's 2022 Best Electric Car award winner, for demonstration laps of the Goodwood race circuit in Sussex.

The Ioniq 5 was the 168kW variant that can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.3sec on the way to a top speed of 114mph, and car is one of several new, sporty EVs fitted as standard with Pilot Sport EV tyres. Others include Teslas and models from Mercedes-Benz’s EQ range.   

Although track speeds were limited mainly to 40mph and on only one section, 70mph, noise levels in the Ioniq 5 were impressively subdued. The car easily despatched a coned slalom accurately and cornered securely, too. However, it was not possible to confirm Michelin's claims concerning improved range.

The Pilot Sport EV tyre is the fruit of Michelin's experience with the ABB Formula E World Championship, the electric single-seater category.

"Formula E is about sustainability and we've been creating tyres that satisfy that goal," said McWhir. He added that as EVs become sportier, so car makers' performance targets for their tyres are changing. Michelin is already working with Hyundai to develop next-gen tyres for EVs.

“Car makers have always asked us to design tyres to satisfy their particular targets but now, for the new generation of sportier EVs the order of their targets is changing with, generally speaking, grip being the priority followed by range, noise levels, load capability and wear rates.”

Of these, only the first can have mattered to Max Chilton as, a stone's throw from Michelin's Hyundai Ioniq, he steered the McMurtry Spierling into Goodwood's record books, not on Michelin tyres but on Avons specially formulated to cope with the electric hypercar's high speeds and high levels of downforce.

That said, Michelin did provide tyres to one very quick electric car on the main hillclimb: the Porsche 718 GT4 ePerformance. Fitted with a bespoke racing tyre using 53% sustainable materials and driven by Richard Leitz, the Porsche set the second fastest time in the Goodwood Shoot-Out Final.



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