Stan Chandgie, executive vice president of sales at Yokohama Tire Corp., said the company sees "a window of opportunity" for EV-specific tires.
"While all of our tires are suitable for most EVs, there is an unmet consumer need in the market. And our intent is to meet that need, above and beyond what current OE tires deliver," he said. "By the beginning of next year, we'll have our first UHP all-season EV-specific tire in the market."
Michelin Group said it continues to adapt products with "new technologies that improve rolling resistance, maximize performance and minimize the environmental impact of mobility."
"Knowing that quieter EV motors highlight tire noise on uneven or rough road surfaces, EV-specific tires, like the Michelin Pilot Sport EV, often come with acoustic dampening foam or other advanced technology designed to help reduce noise," Michelin said.
Sailun Tire Americas (STA) sees the opportunity in the replacement market, especially for a "value-tier" tire. Sailun debuted its ERange EV tire portfolio early this year, and sales have exceeded expectations, according to Ron Dolan, president of STA, the North American subsidiary of China's Sailun Group Co. Ltd.
Dolan said expectations were "modest" entering an emerging market, but the ERange EV is getting "a lot of reordering from our customers in Canada and from TBC. It's going well, and we're quite excited about."
Qingdao Doublestar Group, in announcing the construction of a new plant in Cambodia, said it plans to bring a new EV tire line to North America.
"The EV tire is different than a normal tire," Linda Deng, Doublestar vice president and chair of Doublestar Cambodia, said. "We use a special compound to make the tire lighter to save electricity. And, the second is the noise — EV tire noise must be much lower to make a better experience for the drivers."
The tire is popular in the Chinese market where "more than 50% is EV tire," she said. Doublestar expects their North American version to do the same.
Hankook Tire America Corp. unveiled a pair of tires on June 26 designed for high-performance EVs, the iON evo and iON evo SUV.
"EVs are one of the most essential factors in future mobility, and we are proud to be a first mover in this business," Hankook Tire America President Rob Williams said.
"The EV industry is relatively new in the industry's short history, meaning much can still be done. We can be quite creative and innovative in the industry. However, at the same time, we are very careful as it's fairly new, and we need to always care about safety, making this an exciting and yet very serious job."
The growth of the EV market seems inevitable, though consumers — and their wallets — will decide to what extent. The only thing for sure is that it will be fun to watch.
The tire industry, for its part, is approaching it like they do with every emerging market — cautious steps forward with an eye on the horizon.