Green Tires for Green Cars

While gas savings are the biggest draw of electric vehicles (EVs), many drivers are also looking to make the switch to help improve their own impact on the environment. In fact, according to recent data from the Hankook Tire Gauge Index, “sustainability” ranked second as the term Americans most strongly associate with EVs, just behind advanced technology.

That means dealers shouldn’t overlook the value of sustainability in their products when selling to EV drivers. Whether customers inquire about more planet-friendly options for their vehicles, or specifically about tires made with sustainable materials, dealers can build on their sales and customer loyalty by meeting the needs of this changing market.

Understanding sustainable features of tires

One way to meet the sustainability needs of EV drivers is to understand the specific eco-friendly features of their products, beginning with how the tires are made. Some tire companies such as Hankook have policies that ensure the rubber going into the tires comes from a traceable and sustainable natural rubber supply chain, helping to preserve natural rubber plantations and the biodiversity of the areas they are sourced from.

With over 50 million tons of waste tires discarded around the world, recycled and other green materials can play a key role in enhancing a tire’s sustainability credentials. Silica made from plant-based waste is being used in place of mineral-based silica for some tires, while reclaimed rubber and green carbon allows for the use of recycled butyl rubber. These materials help reduce waste in tire production and create a more sustainable production process.

Enhancing the environmental impact of EVs

In addition to greener supply chains and production, tires can improve the environmental impact of EVs by reducing rolling resistance. This is beneficial to any vehicle but especially so for EVs, because it helps increase the vehicle’s range and maximizes its energy efficiency. That means more miles between charges, which cuts down on electricity consumption.

Finally, mileage and tread wear can play a key role in the sustainability of an EV’s tire. The increased weight and instant torque delivery of an EV place greater stress on its tires, which means they need to be built with stronger compounds to evenly spread road pressure. Doing so helps reduce tread wear, increases the tire’s lifespan, and thus cuts down on waste by ensuring the tires last longer.

How to incorporate sustainability into sales

Incorporating these sustainability features in your marketing approaches (for example by leveraging green leaf decals with brief explainers on the production process or benefit to the vehicle) can help drive growth among two key groups of EV drivers. The first are those who prioritize environmental responsibility in their purchasing decisions and will actively seek out products that complement their values. By demonstrating ways in which their EV tire purchases can be more sustainable, dealers can help these customers achieve these important goals and provide a more satisfying buying experience.

The second group of customers are those who are unaware of the potential for improved sustainability in their tire-buying decisions, but welcome the opportunity to make a greener choice nonetheless. By incorporating customer education into the buying experience, dealers can improve sales by educating drivers how their tire choices are about more than just price and performance.

Hankook and other tire makers recognize the importance of improving sustainability in their product lines, and are investing in significant research and development to achieve this goal. As many EV drivers will appreciate the opportunity to make an additional sustainable purchase, dealers should stay abreast of improvements in these areas to help improve their sales to EV buyers as these vehicles increase in market share.

Rob Williams is the president of Hankook Tire America Corp.

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