Electric drives are not only becoming increasingly attractive in the area of individual mobility, but are also experiencing a dynamic development as demand increases in local public transport and freight transportation.
Together with leading vehicle manufacturers and technology companies, Continental is working on tyre solutions for these special requirements. The premium tyre manufacturer is currently performing test drives at the Contidrom with an electric truck from Futuricum, a specialist in electric commercial vehicles, which has been used by 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 tyres from the Continental EcoRegional product line,” says Hinnerk Kaiser, Head of Tire Development Bus and Truck Tyres 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 focus is in particular on extending the range by reducing rolling resistance. In addition to the original tyres, the Conti EfficientPro and brand-new prototypes are used in direct comparison. The Conti EfficientPro is a proven product that was developed in particular for long-distance transportation and emphasises fuel efficiency. The specially manufactured prototypes were produced in Hanover-Stöcken, at the central location of research and development for premium tyres from Continental, in an elaborate robot carving process and refined by experienced tyre carvers.
“As with all electric drives, the tyres for the Futuricum Logistics 18E are exposed to higher torque during start off and acceleration,” explains Hinnerk Kaiser. “At the same time, the weight and weight distribution of the tractor are increased by the particularly powerful battery. Therefore, the tyres must not only have a low rolling resistance, but must also withstand heavier loads than tyres 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 tyres 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 tyre manufacturer from Hanover, we are uncompromising toward our own requirements – the concept tyre development is intended to significantly shorten the development time regardless of existing tyre generations.
The Swiss company Designwerk Products AG specialises 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 kilometres per year. Compared to comparable diesel-powered trucks, the electric truck saves 90 kilograms of CO2 per hundred kilometres – which corresponds to 72 tonnes of CO2 saved per year.