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16 August 22

How Will Electric Vehicles Impact 24 Hour Call Out For Commercial Tyres

How will the growing use of Electric Vehicles impact on 24 hour call out for commercial tyres repairs or replacements?

With one eye on the future we have been considering the impact of the rapid growth in electric vehicles on the UK roads in terms of truck tyre fleet management.  Whilst there is a perception that heavy batteries and high performance torque might create higher levels of tyre wear, the anecdotal evidence to date, would suggest that wear is reduced compared to traditionally fuelled vehicles.  Some pundits have suggested that wear is reduced by approximately 30% resulting in longer lasting tyres.

We have searched the web and read several articles on the subject but, we cannot find any evidence either way.  There could be several reasons to back the reduced wear argument such as the ‘gentler’ general use of braking in the vehicle slowing down by using the electric motors rather than the brakes.  In most vehicles taking your foot off the accelerator triggers the regenerative braking systems which uses kinetic energy to top up the battery but that also slows down the vehicle without touching the brakes.  The impact should be less wear and tear on tyres and the brakes and so less frequent call outs for commercial tyre replacements.

Increased weight means longer braking distance, instant torque means high tyre wear

The counter argument suggests that in addition to the cargo, the batteries add to the overall vehicle weight which means longer braking distance and the instant torque associated with electric motors would suggest more wear too.  Currently, for electric cars the tyre specification can be different which often run on harder compounds and at higher tyre pressures creating less friction to maximise distances for better battery use.

According to Tyresafe  “the added weight is ultimately carried by the tyres. Without adaptation to compensate for this weight, the tyres would be susceptible to premature wearing, much more quickly than an owner is used to, making replacement far more frequent. As a result, EV tyres are constructed to carry the higher loadings, are reinforced and may carry the HL loading markings.”

Tyresafe adds that, “tyres work at their best when their tread (the part in contact with the road) is at its optimal shape, which is determined by the right amount of air pressure being used at the weight being carried. When a tyre is carrying too much weight, or has insufficient air pressure, the sidewall will bulge (creating a pillow-shaped tyre footprint), placing additional stress on the ‘shoulder’ of the tread. That means it will wear more quickly.

Underinflation will also cause the ‘stiffness’ of the tyre to reduce allowing it to deform when it shouldn’t. Drivers are most likely to experience this when cornering as the amount of control they have will be compromised.

In addition the tyre’s rolling resistance will be affected, leading to higher energy consumption.

To stop that happening, some tyres for EVs feature a ‘reinforced sidewall’ and may operate at higher pressures than for non-EVs. The sidewall of a tyre is what we see when we approach a vehicle from the side, easily identified as it has all the markings of the manufacturer, type, size, date of manufacture and so on clearly visible. By adding strength – or ‘reinforcing’ – that sidewall the tyre will more readily keep its shape and stiffness if it is kept at the correct pressure.”

EV owners and local commercial tyre fitters need to be aware of correct tyre selection

With these additional considerations both drivers of EV’s and the emergency van tyre fitter need to be aware of the importance of correctly selecting a tyre and need to pay close attention markings on their tyres beyond simply their size. The first is load index, which is displayed as either two or three-digits, for example, 95 or 108. The higher the number, the more weight it can carry.

Equally, speed rating is of importance. Displayed as a letter, such as ‘Y’, this determines the maximum speed at which the tyre will perform when supporting permitted loads.

Load index and speed rating are shown next to each other, in close proximity to the tyre’s size marking. Motorists can expect to identify them as, for example, 225/45 R18 95Y.

Tyresafe also flag that there are other considerations in addition to load index and speed rating, “tyres for EVs may well have a reinforced sidewall. At present, an ‘XL’ marking means a tyre can carry extra load which is typically, but not always, at a higher pressure than standard. An ‘HL’ marked tyre means the tyre is capable of carrying even higher loads at similar pressures to an ‘XL’ tyre.”

The impact of this for Tyrenet and its network is that there are a greater range of tyres that need to be held in stock in order to provide a speedy sub 90 minute turnaround for any call-out van tyre replacement.  New EV van tyres now will need to be stocked throughout the country within our  fitter network to provide that unrivalled speedy out of hours commercial tyre repair service.

Greater action called for to accelerate EV adoption

According to an article in Fleet News by Andrew Ryan and published on Jul 12th 2022, “there is a greater need for more action to accelerate the adoption of electric vans”, according to the BVRLA.

“Greater collaboration is needed between Government and industry to accelerate the adoption of electric vans”, says Gerry Keaney, chief executive of BVRLA.

Latest SMMT figures show that so far this year (to the end of June), battery electric vans have accounted for just 5.6% of new LCV registrations.

Speaking at BVRLA’s Fleets in Charge conference on Thursday (July 7), Keaney said: “While cars are powering ahead, vans are undoubtedly struggling to get out of first gear.

We can already see the price of commercial vehicles makes them extremely difficult to justify on a business case.

There’s a lack of tax incentives to support the fleet sector in increasing the uptake of electrical vans.

There's inadequate charging infrastructure to support the rather specific needs of the sector and of course, there's an absolute scarcity of the right sorts of commercial vehicles with the many different use cases to be addressed.

With commercial vehicles there is no silver bullet

With commercial vehicles there is no silver bullet that will address all the needs. Instead, tailored, rather nuanced solutions need to be put in place.”

“It’s very clear to us that this can only be achieved – as it has been to a very large extent with cars – by a really extensive collaboration between decision makers across the whole country.

It’s getting better, but there’s still much more work needs to be done, and it needs to be done faster”, he added.

The status quo change within the market has meant the introduction of a number of new electric vans both from tradition manufacturers and also new entrants to the market that are specialist producers like TEVVA.

Grants of up to £5,000 per vehicle still available for vans

The Fleet News article flagged that whilst the Government has removed the grant for buying electric cars, the grant for vans remains albeit limited to a maximum of £5,000 per vehicle.

According to Dean Gibson at Auto Express “there's a revolution taking place in the van market. Electric drive is being introduced across the van spectrum, with makers such as VW, Ford, Mercedes and Stellantis brands joining ranks with established players like Nissan and Renault by offering electrified vans for sale in the UK.

In recent years, we've seen large electric vans arrive, where maximum cargo volume is the priority over payload. These have been introduced alongside small electric vans, which are designed for short urban routes. But as battery technology has progressed, with increased battery capacity offering longer ranges, we're now at a stage where even the popular mid-sized van class is a viable market for electrification.”

The TEVVA product is even more revolutionary as it includes a ‘Range Extension System’ (REX) using the very latest hydrogen fuel cells to increase the battery range to over 300 miles for this British truck  https://www.tevva.com/

Gibson flags that, “ for van users still uncertain that an all-electric van will fit into their working lives, there are a couple of plug-in hybrid options available, too. Ford offers its mid-sized Transit Custom as a plug-in hybrid, while taxi maker LEVC now has the VN5 range-extending van, which runs on electric power, but has a petrol engine generator on board to help counter range anxiety.

Makers such as Volkswagen, Mercedes, Citroen/Peugeot/Vauxhall/Toyota and Fiat have taken their existing diesel vans and converted them to electric drive - a relatively easy job within the large, flat expanse of metal found in the back of most vans. But there are newcomers to the class as well. As mentioned, LEVC has adapted its range-extending taxi into a van, while Maxus has launched the pure-electric e Deliver 3, which isn't related to any other Maxus model that it sells.”

This is a very dynamic sector and something that we are sure to feature again soon so that we are not just talking about 24 hour van tyre fitters  or truck tyre road services nearby!

Thanks to our contributors:

Andrew Ryan at Commercial Fleet 

Dean Gibson at Auto Express Best cars and Vans 

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