Electric drives are not only becoming increasingly attractive in the area of individual mobility, but also are experiencing a dynamic development in demand in local public transport and freight transportation. Together with leading vehicle manufacturers and technology companies, Continental is working on tire solutions for these special requirements.
The premium tire manufacturer is currently performing test drives at the Contidrom with an electric truck of the specialist for electric commercial vehicles Futuricum, which has been in use for DPD Switzerland in regional traffic since March of this year. The Futuricum vehicle is based on a Volvo FH, which has been converted to an electric drive by the Futuricum parent company Designwerk Products AG. The 19-ton truck has 680 hp and, with a capacity of 680 kilowatt hours, has the largest truck battery in Europe on board. This allows a range of up to 760 kilometers without freight.
“The vehicle has been on the road in Swiss regional traffic since the beginning of the year and is currently rolling on tires of the Continental EcoRegional product line,” said Hinnerk Kaiser, head of Tire Development Bus and Truck Tires at Continental. “The combination of Conti EcoRegional HS3 and HD3 already enables high mileage and extremely low rolling resistance and thus offers the essential characteristics for the economical operation of electrically powered commercial vehicles.”
The current test series are about increasing efficiency even further, the company says. In particular, the focus is on extending the range by reducing rolling resistance. In addition to the original tires, brand-new prototypes are used in direct comparison. The specially manufactured prototypes were manufactured in Hanover-Stöcken, at the central location of research and development for premium tires from Continental, in an elaborate robot carving process and refined by experienced tire carvers.
“As with all electric drives, the tires for the Futuricum Logistics 18E are exposed to higher torque during start off and acceleration,” said Kaiser. “At the same time, the weight and weight distribution of the tractor are increased by the particularly powerful battery. Therefore, the tires must not only have a low rolling resistance, but also withstand heavier loads than tires for comparable vehicles with internal combustion engines. At the same time, they should last just as long and meet the same safety requirements as truck tires for conventional drives.”
Balancing the conflicting goals, especially mileage, braking and handling performance, at an ever higher level is technically demanding. At the same time, in view of the rapid development of the e-mobility segment, the engineers are in a race against time. However, as a premium tire manufacturer from Hanover, we are uncompromising toward our own requirements – the concept tire development is intended to significantly shorten the development time regardless of existing tire generations.
The Swiss company Designwerk Products AG specializes in converting trucks and vans to electric drives. The range of products also includes mobile fast chargers and modular battery systems. DPD Switzerland is one of the leading private express and parcel service providers in Switzerland and handles more than 24 million parcels annually. The Futuricum Logistics 18E, ordered at the beginning of 2021, is expected to drive at least 80,000 kilometers per year.
Compared to comparable diesel-powered trucks, the electric truck saves 90 kilograms of CO2 per hundred kilometers – which corresponds to 72 tons of CO2 saved per year.