SEOUL, South Korea — Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. is launching its first replacement market tire line in North America developed for electric vehicles (EVs), sales of which are increasing exponentially.
Hankook is planning roll out its line of reduced rolling-resistance tires, designed for high-performance EVs and dubbed "iOn," in Europe and North America over the coming months in three iterations: summer, winter and all-season.
Hankook is planning a phased rollout of the iON product line, starting in May in Europe with the Ventus iON S summer line, followed in September with the Winter i*cept iON, also in Europe. An all-season version, the Ventus iON A, was developed for North America.
All three will be available in a size range covering 18- to 22-inch rim diameters.
In addition to lower rolling resistance, Hankook said the new tires will generate less noise than comparable existing tire lines while also being engineered to cope with the instant torque drivetrain characteristics of most electric vehicles. The company at this time did not disclose the tires' relative rolling-resistance and/or noise-generation versus existing tire lines.
"With the introduction of this new iON tire family, our company is increasingly considering the rapidly growing demand for electric vehicles and the associated need for suitable tires," Hankook Tire CEO and President Sooil Lee said.
"With an improved range per battery charge, this new generation of tires will help to further optimize the efficiency of electric vehicles in everyday use."
According to forecasts by the information service IHS Markit, battery-powered electric vehicles' share of total vehicle sales will increase by 36.6% through 2028, to a market share of nearly 30% versus 6.4% currently.
Because Hankook iON tires are engineered to make it possible to drive more miles per battery charge compared to standard tires, they can also make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions from road traffic, Hankook said.
Hankook points to a number of technological reasons for the iON's performance attributes vis-à-vis electric vehicles, including:
- a higher load-carrying capacity to cope with the "considerable" weight of the batteries;
- the use of aramid fibers in the tire's casing to counteract the deformation forces caused by EVs' high torque;
- the use of a high proportion of "natural" resins and oils in the tread compound, to help improve durability/mileage and the tire's sustainable footprint.
Hankook also has incorporated a foam insert, dubbed the Hankook Sound Absorber, in the tire's interior to help reduce noise generation, a performance characteristic that takes on added significance due to the lack of engine noise in EVs.