Tyre-makers are under pressure to almost literally reinvent the wheel as regulators turn their scrutiny to tyre pollution that is set to surge with the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) and threatens to undermine those cars’ green credentials.
When tyres make contact with the road, tiny particles are abraded and emitted. The extra weight of EVs linked to their batteries means this little-discussed form of pollution – from an estimated 2 billion tyres produced globally every year – is becoming a bigger problem.
Major producers, including Goodyear (GT.O), Bridgestone (5108.T), Michelin (MICP.PA) and Continental (CONG.DE), are also trying to fend off competition from cheaper Chinese rivals.
“It’s not quite a perfect storm,” said Gunnlaugur “G” Erlendsson, CEO of UK-based startup Enso, which has developed more durable tyres specifically for EVs and rents out tyres that it takes back to recycle at the end of life. “But it’s close.”