The electrification of urban delivery vehicles has huge potential. Using electric trucks for delivery work is helping to bring about a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions and noise pollution in downtown areas.
However, before fleets of electric vehicles can operate, certain elements must first be in place – a new charging infrastructure, for example, as well as different power networks, operating procedures and, not least, the right tyres.
Continental has been involved in field trials of electric trucks for several years now, in the process collecting information for a commercial vehicle tyre specially adapted to vehicles with electric drive. The robust Conti Hybrid tyre for regional applications is currently racking up the miles, the company says.
In late 2018, the Stiegl brewery in Austria added an electric truck from MAN to its fleet. Since then, its Conti Hybrid HS3 and HD3 tyres have covered more than 23,000 kilometres.
The truck is on the road eight hours every day in downtown Salzburg and within an approximately 50km radius of the city.
“The Continental tyres perform exceptionally well in all driving situations,” reports Stiegl driver Dominik Lackner. “It’s great to be able to rely on so much grip when pulling away. I can get away from traffic lights as quickly as the car next to me, which is a whole new feeling.”
Hinnerk Kaiser, head of tyre development at Continental says: “Developing tyres for electric vehicles is particularly demanding in technical terms because they have to withstand higher torque, generate as little rolling noise as possible, and be able to carry what are still quite heavy batteries.And they have to do so while delivering the same mileage and ensuring the same level of safety.”
Delivery trucks frequently have to negotiate stop-start traffic and drive over curb, as Kaiser adds: “Tyres on electric trucks are subjected to higher torque when pulling away and accelerating.”
Then there is deceleration to consider: When the vehicle brakes, its electric motor generates power for charging the battery. This recuperation process further increases the workload for the drive axle tyres. And finally, there is the special focus on rolling noise in downtown areas: “This is where vehicles need to be particularly quiet to make sure the comfort-enhancing benefits of the electric motor aren’t negated by tyre noise,” says Kaiser.
As part of the Austrian trial, the Conti Hybrid HD3 and HS3 tyres were fitted to the MAN eTGM truck. “We chose the HD3 for the test as it’s our specialist tyre for regional transportation, offers high mileage and has a robust tread,” explains Kaiser.
“The Conti Hybrid HS3 is likewise designed for regional duties and offers high mileage and good wet performance over its full lifetime. All in all, these are the attributes with which we can currently help electric trucks most effectively in urban traffic.”
For many years, Continental has been gathering valuable real-world experience through development partnerships.
“Resolving conflicting goals – especially mileage versus braking and handling performance – is technically demanding,” explains Hinnerk Kaiser. “This presents us with new challenges, but we’re definitely not going to be making any compromises when it comes to robustness and braking performance.”