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Tesla’s long journey to the pinnacle of electric vehicle manufacturing has been marked by incredible innovativeness and out-of-the-box thinking.
While most of the focus is on battery technologies, digital displays, and AI features, the company has also purposed to conquer the last frontier of vehicle manufacturing – tire structure.
In particular, most Tesla models have foam in their tires, which is eyebrow-raising, considering that most vehicle manufacturers don’t do the same.
So, Why do Tesla Tires Have Foam?
Generally, tires make ‘noise’ when the air inside them continuously vibrates due to contact with road surfaces. This acoustic activity is called resonance, and it is directly proportional to the vehicle’s speed. It is also stronger on uneven roads.
To reduce resonance, manufacturers of acoustic tires use sound-absorbing liners on the inner side of the tires. These liners prevent the vibration caused by the road from being transmitted to the cabin.
Most of the tires used in Tesla vehicles are made by Continental and do not use ordinary foam. Instead, it uses special polyurethane strips to line the inner part of the tire.
These strips are about 100 – 120 mm wide and can cancel up to 9 dB of cavity noise (the noise produced by the tire’s movements on roads). Considering that the average noise level inside moving Tesla cars is around 60 dB, a reduction of 9 dB doesn’t look too bad.
Other tire suppliers also use similar technology. Michelin, for example, uses polyurethane foam which can reduce up to 20% of the resonance noise.
Foam sheets used in Hankook tires are more lightweight compared to those from Continental or Michelin, are more affordable, and can reduce noise by 5-7 decibels, on the other hand, Pirelli tires can reduce noise by 3 decibels, which is a reduction of about 25%.
Why you Should Use Tesla Foam Tires
Even though there are numerous tires out there, it is important to only use Tesla-branded tires.
This is because the tires are specifically designed to boost the safety and performance of Tesla EVs in various ways, including:
- They can withstand higher torque
Electric motors produce high, instant torque than combustion engines, and Tesla cars are no different.
Your Tesla doesn’t only need strong tires to handle the torque, but the tires need to be the right size as well to ensure performance and acceleration are not affected.
For this reason, the company works directly with tire manufacturers to produce custom tires.
- They generate lower rolling resistance
Rolling resistance or rolling friction is the amount of energy needed to make a tire reach a given distance.
Tires made for Tesla EVs are designed to offer low rolling resistance to reduce energy loss and increase battery range.
The same can’t be said about regular tires, which are meant to be used in cars with optimal weight and torque.
- They handle weight better
In case you didn’t know, most electric vehicles are heavier than ICE cars. This is because they need to carry heavy battery packs to provide more range.
As such, tires made specifically for Tesla cars are designed to handle the weight without affecting their performance.
- They are more durable
Since EVs are heavier and more powerful than ICE cars, they tend to burn through tires at a considerable rate. An ordinary tire would last only a fraction of the time that Tesla-branded foam tires would. The tires are made from high-quality rubber and have thick sidewalls, which boost their longevity.
While Elon Musk’s Tesla is known for coming up with all forms of inventions, it did not really invent foamy tires.
The technology has existed for over a century having been fronted as an alternative to air-filled tires, which were susceptible to going flat at the worst possible times.
However, more modern foam tires are not primarily geared to prevent punctures but to reduce the amount of noise generated during driving and to improve performance.