Tire Technology Expo Conference: How Apollo Tyres is resolving complexity in the EV era

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With new challenges arising due to increasing vehicle electrification, the 2023 Tire Technology Expo Conference will gather tire manufacturers and system integrators to share their insights during a dedicated ‘Tire Design and Development for Next-Generation Mobility‘ session on Day 3. Tire Technology International recently spoke to Apollo Tyres’ head – PV R&D (Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa), Hitesh Joshi, ahead of his presentation Redefining the magic triangle for the EV era with case studies with Sandeep Moses Rabinder, divisional head – OE product development engineer, that will feature in the session.

What will your presentation cover?
The electric revolution in the automobile industry is picking up the pace and is the driving force for the tire industry to move toward the next level of design and manufacturing capability. Tire performances are being pushed to the limits with ultra-low RR, high traction, low levels of NVH and uncompromized wear performance requirements. The presentation will be about how the stringent performance requirements are bringing in more contradiction and complexity (low RRC with low tire weight contradicts NVH performance such as structure-borne noise), the approach that has been taken and case studies on NVH improvement.

What is the biggest challenge in meeting the performance requirements of OEMs or the replacement market?
Let me start my answer by giving you a glimpse of the Indian market. Indian conditions are very diverse in nature. Climatic conditions range from extreme heat to cold; there are different kinds of terrain (from plains to hills, mud to rocks) and varied market applications, including overload conditions. From the regulatory point of view, Indian regulations have raised the bar with swift adoption and are now on a par with global regulations, both at the vehicle and tire levels.

In the 1980s, the biggest performance requirements from tires were mileage and durability. With improvements in road infrastructure and the availability of vehicles from global OEMs, high-speed performances such as handling and comfort have become more important and part of the basic requirements. In the last decade, expectations have expanded to grip, passenger safety and energy efficiency. Therefore, the challenge or expectation ahead is not only a traditional magic triangle but now triangles within a triangle, entangled with different performance requirements.

The requirements of OEMs and the replacement market are equally challenging and becoming more difficult. Both markets pose various challenges: some parameters, such as RR, noise, ride and handling performance are becoming more stringent and refined to the highest degree by OEMs, whereas the replacement market needs tires to be more durable, puncture-proof and long-lasting. Cost is a common driving factor in both markets.

Nowadays, due to challenging vehicle characteristics and an increasingly competitive landscape, OEMs want to extract the most from tires. In some cases, they desire a highly refined product that meets the highest performance compared with competitor benchmarks. Their requirements consequently pose relatively higher challenges for the overall tire industry.

How do stringent performance requirements compare in India to Europe or elsewhere?
Requirements for low rolling resistance, which were the focus in Europe a decade ago, have become a key requirement in India. Due to the CAFE standards, governments pushing EVs, COP commitments and subsidies for EVs, the OEM’s focus on EV products has grown enormously. This has drastically increased the demand for low rolling resistance tires, since tire RR directly contributes to the range extension of electric vehicles. The most challenging part is to achieve low RR along with durability, mileage and cut and chip, which are vital for Indian road and load conditions.

Another important parameter is that the product must meet stringent performance targets and have a competitive price proposition, as you can implement premium pricing with a superior-performing product in Europe.

How is the EV era redefining the magic triangle?
EVs bring many changes to the expectations of the tire. Previously, typical performance is a magic triangle comprising RR, mileage and grip. All three parameters are contradictory in nature; any industry needs to invest in a lot of research to expand the triangle, resulting in a winning product and driving customer demand. However, at least a 20% expansion in the magic triangle is expected of electric vehicle tire performance, as well as more triangles (NVH, weight and cut/chip) that contradict one other.

The EV era and global sustainability are pushing tire manufacturers to use sustainable materials, reduce particle emissions and introduce greener end-of-life processes. As a result, vital performance requirements have evolved from a conventional magic triangle to a multi-triangle situation.

How is Apollo Tyres resolving this complexity?
Achieving these requirements in a short time is highly complex and challenging. At Apollo, our market- and customer-centric approach helps us foresee needs and challenges, enabling us to create a long-term technology roadmap. This map helps us define a very clear and systematic investment plan in the areas of research, testing infrastructure and manufacturing.

We also encourage cross-learning and co-development by setting up partnerships with suppliers, academia and research institutions on various short- and long-term projects. Apollo’s global presence, experience and cross-learning of EV advancements in established markets make us better prepared to adopt the EV tire challenge in India. Our multi-faceted approach has helped us tackle the complexity created by electric vehicles and the regulations.

Why do you think OEMs are moving their R&D departments/centers to India?
India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and recently became the third largest in automobiles, overtaking Japan. Vehicle penetration is still at a very low level compared with the US and China, so there is huge potential for market growth. Government policies are helping global companies establish themselves (IT giants, auto sectors, etc) to deliver products on par with international standards. Post-pandemic, India has emerged as the preferred partner for global companies as a technology and manufacturing hub.

In addition, there is an abundance of technical manpower at a very competitive cost, as well as many technical universities training English-speaking engineers to provide resources abroad.

All of these factors and the need for a specific product for the Indian market have driven OEMs to tap into this potential and establish themselves in the country to develop and manufacture their products.

What is the key message you want to share with the audience at Tire Technology Expo?
The future is challenging for the tire industry. At Apollo, we are ready to handle the complexity and rapid changes to meet our customers’ demands and expectations.

Hitesh and Sandeep will present at the three-day conference in Hannover alongside 130 other speakers across 17 specialist streams covering the most pertinent issues in tire development today. To view the program or book a pass, please visit the website.

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Charlotte's inclination toward science, technology and transportation led her to write commissioned articles on automotive engineering and design in 2020. Realizing this was an area she wanted to develop further, she joined UKi in 2022, where she works on special projects and writes show news and interviews for ADAS & Autonomous Vehicle Technology Expo, Automotive Testing Expo and Tire Technology Expo.

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