NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Hankook Tire America Corp. has introduced its first tires designed for electric vehicles (EVs) in the U.S. market.
The iON evo AS and iON evo AS SUV are Hankook's first foray into the EV tire aftermarket.
The Hankook iON evo AS SUV is available in 20 sizes covering 18- to 22-inch rim diameters, while the iON evo AS is available in six sizes cover 18- to 21-inch rim diameters. Both tires are covered by a 50,000-mileage warranty.
Citing a BloombergNEF report that predicts that by 2030 more than half of all new passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. will be electric, Rob Williams, senior vice president, North America sales, told Tire Business: "Obviously we want to be on the front edge of that, knowing that a lot of regulations are out there — 12 states have already talked about introducing EV-mandated vehicles. So we want to make sure that we have a product to market on the front edge on a lot of these vehicles that are now coming EV-related."
The all-season tires feature noise-proof technology, even tread wear and enhanced mileage, with increased grip and rigidity, Hankook said.
"The iON evo AS and iON evo AS SUV demonstrate Hankook's industry-leading research and development to create tires that are designed, from the ground up, for the unique needs of EVs. At a time when more drivers are making the switch to electric, these tires are built to deliver the very best in mileage, comfort and performance for EVs that drivers have come to expect from Hankook's range of tires," Williams said.
The tires are built with Hankook's EVolution compound composed of high-concentration silica and eco-friendly materials, designed to evenly spread road pressure to extend tire life and provide healthier tire conditions, the tire maker said.
Hankook said its optimized curing technology and advanced compound also reduces rolling resistance, which enhances battery life and extends mileage.
The lack of an internal combustion engine (ICE) powertrain in EVs means that road noise can account for 40% of cabin noise, while wind noise from high-speed driving can account for an additional 30%, according to Hankook.
The tire maker said it reduced road noise with Hankook Sound Absorber technology. Knurling technology inside the tire grooves reduces tread pattern noise, while optimized multi-pitch sequencing and noise-absorbing material inside the tire cavity help to further reduce cabin noise.
Hankook did not disclose pricing information.
Heavy lithium-ion battery packs can increase the weight of EVs by up to 20% versus ICE vehicles, thus raising stress as well. So the iON tires are built with Hankook's EV Contour Technology to increase lateral rigidity by 25% and cornering rigidity by 20%, compared with all-season touring tires.
A high rigidity profile and tread design, coupled with 3D Grip Kontrol sipes on the main treads, provide increased grip for equal performance on dry, wet and mild winter roads, as well as light snow, Hankook said.
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"Today with the Hankook iON, we will have roughly 80% of the market covered. So we will have a full line of EV tires with 26 specific SKUs that we will roll out. We will work closely with the dealers based on vehicle registration in their markets and what products they probably should need to be stocking of the iON all-season," Williams said.
Currently what is happening in the aftermarket is that tires designed for ICE vehicles are often being mounted on EVs, Williams said.
In these situations, EV owners "are not getting the performance from that grip, that bite you would expect to get when you own an EV vehicle. So unfortunately, a lot of EV vehicle owners are not able to fully appreciate their vehicle without an EV-dedicated tire," he said.
"The big difference clearly is going to be noticed when you are driving a high-end performance vehicle — an Audi, BMW, Tesla. And your traditional tires are just not built to handle the load and the torque and the noise, or lack of noise, that these vehicles produce. So we really want the EV vehicle owners to experience exactly what they're paying for in an EV vehicle, which is the high performance nature that our iON can basically provide them with."
He said the EV tire had to be engineered from scratch to address the unique stresses of an EV: rapid tire wear due to instantaneous torque; road noise that becomes more prominent with a quiet electric motor; and performance levels that need to be maintained in dry/wet weather traction and cornering.
"The goal ultimately is to get the consumer educated because today as we look at the consumer, only one in four consumers today even understand that there is a need for an EV-dedicated product," Williams said.
"We know we have a great product that we're bringing to the market, We need to make sure we educate our dealers on the benefits and features of this product, and then ultimately get the consumer educated to understand exactly why they need an EV tire. But more importantly, how they'll get to enjoy the driving experience even more with the Hankook iON all-season."
He said Hankook's local territory managers will be working with its dealer network on providing training, both hands-on and virtually, for selling EV tires. Training and technical videos will be posted on the company website.
A marketing program will build brand awareness through its new sponsorship of the electric motorsport, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, and via Facebook and YouTube promotions.
The Hankook EV tire line was launched earlier this year in Europe as the Ventus iON S summer tire and the Winter i*cept iON tire.