From the Tesla Model S Plaid and Lucid Air to the Audi E-Tron GT, Mercedes-Benz EQS, and Polestar 2, this year marks an acceleration of electric car models geared for those expecting strong performance combined with the refinement of a luxury car—or close to it.
To Michelin, which hopes to sell eight times the number of tires for EVs that it does today, that merits a different kind of tire—one that’s built for strong launches and gobs of “instant torque,” and one that keeps it quiet when there’s no thrumming gasoline engine.
The Pilot Sport EV has a tread design and compound designed for the very strong torque characteristics of electric cars. Its solution involves a hard compound at the center of the tread—to endure the strong launches—with softer compound used toward the outside for handling and grip. The compound itself is similar to what’s used in official tires used for Formula E racing.
Michelin Pilot Sport EV tire for electric cars
The design also prioritizes something that needs more emphasis in electric vehicles—road noise. Michelin claims a 20-percent reduction in “perceptible road noise” (170-230 Hz) thanks to a custom-developed polyurethane foam that’s part of the material mix.
At the same time, tire-and-wheel choices can have a tremendous effect on efficiency and range—as can size choices—so the tire also needs to be designed with that, and rolling resistance specifically, in mind.
Michelin is calling the tire CO2-neutral at the point of sale. To do that, it’s investing in carbon-offsetting projects, in its case through Livelihoods carbon fund.
The company isn’t limiting its design pursuits solely to the performance corner of EVs. It’s also testing an airless tire with GM on the Chevy Bolt EV.
The Pilot Sport EV tire is available starting this year and will be made in 11 different original-equipment sizes plus 5 replacement-market sizes, for rims ranging from 18 to 22 inches.