Hyundai and Michelin on Monday announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to partner on environmentally friendly EV tires.
Joint research between the two companies aims to increase use of sustainable materials while optimizing tires for EVs, Hyundai said in a press release. The partnership also encompasses a real-time tire monitoring system for future autonomous vehicles.
The partnership follows a five-year effort launched in November 2017 to develop an exclusive tire for the Hyundai Ioniq 5. Tires developed through the extended partnership will make their way onto "future premium EV models," Hyundai said. The automaker believes EVs require new tire technology to meet durability and performance requirements, although it didn't go into much detail about what that technology might be.
Michelin Pilot Sport EV tire for electric cars
As we've underscored, the extra weight and tremendous torque of EVs, combined, require a different kind of tire. Special tires are also needed to push range to new levels, and address road noise that's normally masked by a combustion engine.
Making EV tires eco-friendly also goes beyond the materials used to manufacture them. Recent studies have raised concerns about microplastic and other particulate emissions from faster-wearing EV tires. Battery packs make EVs substantially heavier than comparable internal-combustion models, which can dramatically increase tire emissions.
As a study recently suggested, the extra weight of batteries could lead to quite the boost in fine-particulate pollution, from tires, under some driving conditions. So while future Hyundai EVs may not get anything as radical as Michelin's proposed airless tire, perhaps the two companies will find practical solutions to these problems.