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Building a better tire

Tire manufacturer Sailun promises affordability and increased range with its EV-specific line of tires.

By Michael Bettencourt Wheels.ca

Oct 26, 2022 4 min. read

Article was updated a month ago

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There is not much sexy about high-efficiency tires. But they do start to look more appealing when you consider using them can increase an electric vehicle’s range by seven per cent. Even more attractive when you learn they can cost significantly less than the tires that come standard on the most common EV in Canada, the Tesla Model 3

Those two attributes – increased range and reduced costs – are exactly what tiremaker Sailun is promising with its new line of ERange tires.

It is also promising a comparable driving experience, which is why it invited journalists, tire distributors, and auto dealers to Los Angeles in early October for the launch of its tire line and to test drive a Tesla Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor (with all-wheel drive) equipped with them.

Erange

The route took us around Los Angeles – from its dense highways to curvy canyon roads in the hills above the city. At three different spots along the drive, I kept a record of the efficiency of the Model 3, such as range and battery performance, which I could then compare to the official numbers from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

For this new line of ERange tires, Sailun didn’t just tweak the low rolling resistance properties of its summer touring tires but used a unique process it called “liquid phase mixing.” Mark Pereira, marketing director for Sailun North America, said this method produces the tire in a liquid vat instead of using a dry materials recipe to create it.

“Our engineers use the chocolate milk comparison,” Pereira said. “If you use the powder, you’re never going to get it to mix 100 per cent. But if you use the liquid chocolate, and mix it enough, you could make it completely consistent.”

Erange Tires

The company has been working on this technology, which Pereira said has been dubbed EcoPoint3, for more than a decade. Development was led by Sailun’s North American team. Independent lab testing, as well as the company’s own assessment, done at the Sailun facility near Toronto last fall, found a seven per cent average increase in efficiency over stock tires, he said.

“We hired two professional drivers and we had them drive (electric vehicles) side by side in the same conditions on the 407 electronic toll highway for three hours,” said Pereira, adding one vehicle had stock tires while the other was fitted with ERange tires.

After three hours, the electric vehicles were fully charged and the tires with swapped from one car to the other. This was done to help eliminate any differences in battery performance and efficiency.

Erange Model

“Then we ran them back to the starting point, and carefully measured then averaged the amount of electricity consumed,” said Pereira.

On a vehicle as efficient as a Model 3 that we tested in Los Angeles, which has an official Canadian range of 576 kilometres that seven per cent efficiency increase is good for between 30 to 40 extra kilometres per charge, Pereira said. Though, he also cautioned, this range can be reduced based on how you drive, air temperature, elevation changes and other factors.

Tesla currently recommends for most of its models that owners limit daily charging to 90 per cent capacity to extend the long-term life of the lithium-ion battery used in its vehicles. In theory, the ERange tires could give you more than two-thirds of that range back. But keep in mind Sailun is not recommending these tires for winter use.

Back in California weather, however, these tires provided an impressive balance of quiet highway running, in-town comfort, and healthy grip through the twisting roads without ever squealing. The Model 3 is a fine canyon carver, with its heavy one-pedal driving meaning only the sharpest corners, or sudden red lights needed any type of brake pedal application.

The Tesla Model 3 I tested usually comes with Michelin MXM4 touring tires, but Tesla does also offer it with OEM Hankook Kinergy fitment. In comparison to my earlier experience driving the Model 3 with its Michelin tires, this was an exercise in “can you feel the difference?” Maybe you could in pure back-to-back testing, but from memory it was minimal in these sunny and dry conditions.

From a cost perspective, the 245/45/18 stock tire size, V-rated versions of the Michelin on online Canadian site tiredirect.ca runs between $267 and $324, while the Hankook runs for less at roughly $282 per tire. The suggested price of a Sailun ERange in this size is $180, said the company. The tires will start to appear on the market in some parts of Canada as early as November, with wider distribution around March 2023.

From an efficiency point of view, our first city and highway leg returned an average of 257 watt-hours per mile, which is just under the Model 3 Long Range Dual Motor’s official 260 figure. Over a longer final leg, which included some canyons but also traffic and highway speeds down the famed Pacific Coast Highway, my Tesla averaged 230 watt-hours per mile, or an 11.5 per cent improvement over its EPA combined efficiency rating for city and highway use.

In Canada, that extra 11.5 percent of range with this model of the Tesla is, unscientifically, an extra 66 kilometres of range. My experience now has me thinking up ways I could test the increased range of these tires using my own EV.

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