July 2012: Continental Leads the Way in Tyre Technology for Electric Cars
The mark of a leader is in the ability to prepare for the future while in the present. The current delicate environmental situation has put the spotlight on electric cars with zero emissions. And clearly the future belongs to electric cars.
Having foreseen this trend long before anyone else, tyre major Continental started working on tyres (and other accessories) for electric vehicles EV) and today Continental is the leader in EV technology.
Continental Showcases its EV Technology
Continental tyres has converted a standard Renault Megane into a prototype EV specifically to showcase its EV technology. Besides the Conti.eContact tyres (which we are most interested in), this EV Megane has uses about 40 (that’s right) components like battery, motors, display controls etc, manufactured by Continental. And most of these components are already available on the market or will go into production soon.
Conti.eContact Tyres – All about Reducing Rolling Resistance and Improving Mileage
The first thing you would notice about the Conti.eContact tyres on the modified prototype is their unusual size – 195/55 R20- and their aerodynamic rims. This specific design results in lowering the rolling resistance by 30%, and extends the range of the vehicle significantly.
The rolling resistance goes down because the unusual tyre diameter increases the contact patch, reducing deformation in the tyre as it comes closer to the contact patch.
Also tyre rims are smooth and largely enclosed (unlike regular tyres that have edging and design elements on the rim), which reduces the wind resistance significantly.
Further the Conti.eContact sidewalls are designed such that there is minimal loss of energy when the tyres deflect during turns, another factor that lowers the rolling resistance.
Conti.eContact Unique Tread Features
The tyre’s tread is characterised by multiple sipes, 4 longitudinal grooves, a complete lack of transverse configurations and trimmed tread ribs. This unique tread design further decreases rolling resistance and noise levels are also significantly reduced.
Incidentally in the new EU tyre labelling legislation, external tyre noise is a critical parameter. And it appears that the Conti.e.Contact tyres are prepared for it.
Lastly the tyre contour is very low, reducing travel by the belt elements, leading to even further lowering of rolling resistance.
Special Attributes of the Conti.eContact Tyres
The tyre also incorporates an automatic pressure monitoring system that serves to increase the working life by up to 10%. Company sources added that the tyres also offer more precise handling and better wet braking performance.
The Comprehensive Picture
In any discussion on Continental technology in EVs, it would be unfair to mention only the tyres, because the company manufactures a range of other crucial EV components. The star amongst these is undoubtedly the externally excited synchronous motor that powers this prototype.
As Continental is the only mass manufacturer of this product, Renault has fitted them in thousands in their electric cars. Externally excited motors enhance the overall motor efficiency.
Power electronics and electric vehicle controller are the other critical parts manufactured by Continental in the prototype.
It does appear that Continental is ready for the challenges of the future, where we will see more electric cars on the road.
This article is written by Azzam Sheikh who has industry experience writing news, content and press releases. If you would like to make contact with Azzam then you can do so by Email, also see Azzam's Google+ profile.