Japan Tire Makers Release New Products Exclusively for EVs

Courtesy of Toyo Tire Corp.
A light electric truck is seen with tires developed by Toyo Tire Corp. for this type of vehicle.

Major tire manufacturers are releasing products that are exclusively for electric vehicles, partly because more electric trucks are being used in the logistics industry due to labor shortages and environmental concerns. Demand is also increasing for replacement tires for passenger EVs.

In June, Toyo Tire Corp. began selling tires exclusively for electric light-duty trucks. The company has developed a unique groove shape on the surface that improves wear resistance by 21% compared to conventional tires for light-duty trucks.

Light-duty trucks are responsible for delivering goods to consumers over “the last one mile,” the final leg to the consumer’s door. The surface of their tires is subject to significant wear as drivers frequently accelerate and brake.

The bodies of EVs are also heavier than gasoline-powered vehicles because EVs are equipped with large-capacity batteries, which means their tires tend to wear out faster. This is why Toyo Tire has developed a product exclusively for EVs for the first time.

In March, Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd. released a new product for light-duty electric trucks that optimizes the tire’s contact surface. The product can reduce excess heat generation, which decreases electric power consumption, the equivalent of fuel consumption for gasoline-powered vehicles.

Tire makers are speeding up the development of products for light-duty electric trucks because the vehicles are seeing more and more use in the logistics industry in a bid to alleviate a labor shortage. Workers can drive them if they have a driver’s license for standard motor vehicles.

Tires are said to play a greater role in electric power consumption for EVs than in fuel economy for gas-powered vehicles. With the spread of passenger EVs, new tires have also been launched in anticipation of demand for replacement tires.

Bridgestone Corp. launched a new tire in February that is also compatible with EVs. To increase the driving range, which is an issue for EVs, the product uses less rubber to reduce weight. The tire improves rider comfort and driving performance, while also reducing noise thanks to new groove shapes.

Usually, tires are replaced every three to five years. As Tesla’s popular Model 3 was put on the Japanese market in 2019, there is growing demand for replacement tires for passenger EVs. Yokohama Rubber Co. has also developed a replacement tire for EVs.