Electric trucks aren’t just a crazy West Coast “thing” anymore. Those goods you’re ordering online are likely to soon arrive via electric truck or van (and depending on where you live, there’s a decent chance this has happened already). Even public transportation and school districts in cities from coast to coast are beginning to put their hats in the electric ring to see what all the hype is about. In other words, EVs are out there, Jerry, and they’re lovin’ every minute of it.
The trouble is many EVs require different electric truck and bus tires than their internal combustion engine brothers and sisters. These tires have different qualities, built for higher load carrying capacity and producing less noise. And, despite how new EV tires are, fleet managers expect their friendly neighborhood tire dealer to have worldly knowledge on how running these tires is affecting fleet efficiency.
To help keep up with the latest tire buzz, we caught up with a few of the experts in this space – Goodyear’s Dustin Lancy, commercial product marketing manager, and Mike Nehls, general manager at Smithers Tire & Wheel Test Center, to offer their best advice for commercial tire dealers in servicing electric fleets.
EV Tires – What’s the Big Deal?
Yeah, hold on, let’s start here – why do electric trucks need those special EV tires anyway?
First off, electric powertrain or not, trucks are heavier than passenger vehicles. Electrify them with large batteries and they get even heavier. Then consider how EVs run on nearly instant torque provided by the electric motor(s) and how that might affect the low rolling resistance tires often spec’d with these types of vehicles. With these aspects combined, Smithers’ Nehls says accelerated tread wear is near-inevitable.
“EV batteries are heavy, which puts increased load on the vehicle’s tires, even before it’s loaded up with packages and freight for delivery,” Nehls says. “This creates a need for a much higher load requirement on the tires.”
This being said, Goodyear’s Lancy suggests working with fleets to ensure they’re choosing the proper tire for their vehicle and application.
“At Goodyear, we utilize the latest tire technology to address this pain point. While we cannot prevent faster wear, Goodyear develops products to help reduce how quickly the tire wears on an electric vehicle. That’s the beauty of our new Endurance RSA 17.5-in. ULT tires,” he says. “While higher load capacities typically contribute to faster wear, we developed our Endurance RSA tire to handle those load capacities, so fleets can feel confident their tires will wear comparable to internal combustion engine tires.”
While the Endurance RSA was developed specifically with electric last-mile delivery vehicles in mind, Lancy adds that it’s also compatible with gas- or diesel-powered vehicles.
Don’t Sleep After the Sale
Due to the high stress electric truck tires carry, tire dealers should work with fleets to monitor tread wear and casing durability for these tires more frequently than they would tires for gas and diesel trucks. Fleets are busy, so Lancy says tire dealers shouldn’t be afraid to lend a helping hand by investing in tools that can quickly inspect these tires for commercial fleets every time they pay a visit.
Lancy suggests looking into Goodyear’s CheckPoint device as an example—the company’s drive-over-reader device that provides automated tire inspections for pressure and tread depth. Fleets can also invest in other tire management solutions, like Goodyear’s Tire Optix inspection toolset and TPMS Plus, to stay on their front foot.
Different inspection devices from various companies in the marketplace offer different levels of automation and coordination on the part of a tire shop, so tire dealers should research the best solution for their situation.
Scrap Tire Analysis for EV Tires
Scrap tire analysis on electric truck tires is a very similar process to that for tires running on internal combustion engine vehicles, however, Lancy says the findings of the analysis may be different from what you’d expect for ICE vehicle tires. Pay particular attention to the casing durability of EV tires, for example, which could be impacted by being subjected to heavier loads.
“One of the issues that could be discovered is how the heavier vehicle weights could impact durability and tread wear due to the EV battery weights,” Lancy says. “For example, EV trucks come with higher torque, which could result in tire wear conditions like diagonal cracking, chipping/flaking, alternative lug wear and overall fast wear.”
Tires are more likely to have compromised casings after being run on an electric truck, which could negatively affect a fleet’s retread program. Smithers’ Nehls says manufacturers develop electric truck tires with this in mind, making overall durability and reinforced sidewalls a priority.