Nokian Tyres is claiming an industry first with the release of a Nokian Hakkapeliitta R2 fitment designed for the electric BMW i3.
The Finnish manufacturer says the winter tyre has achieved an ‘A’ European tyre label rating for rolling resistance – a boast that not even the most optimistic tyre maker has voiced since the label’s introduction in late 2012. But given Nokian’s impeccable credentials as a winter tyre specialist, we can be confident that this particular Hakkapeliitta R2 does exactly what it says on the tin. To quote the manufacturer, the tyre “allows for safe, economical, and high-performance driving on snow and ice in demanding Nordic winter weather.”
The size 155/70R19 84Q Hakkapeliitta R2 developed with the i3 in mind will be introduced in January 2015, with initial sales taking place in Nokian Tyres’ “key markets” – the Nordic region and Russia, along with “other markets wherever true winter is experienced.” A further Hakkapeliitta R2 fitment, a size 215/45R20 95R XL tyre designed for the BMW i8 hybrid, will be released in February or March 2015.
Upon announcing the upcoming debut of the size 155/70R19 84Q tyre, Nokian Tyres notes that the typical EU label rolling resistance rating for winter tyres is between C and E, and thus its A-rated tyre can offer as much as 30 per cent lower rolling resistance compared with these rivals. “We are proud to be able to offer more winter grip, less worry, and, in particular, more range to the ever-increasing number of electric car owners,” comments Jarno Ahvenlammi, product development manager at Nokian Tyres. “Making transport safer and greener is also a leading principle for our product development.”
The tall, thin construction of a 155/70R19 tyre – very similar to the size 155/55 R19 ‘tall and narrow’ Ecopia EP 500 summer tyre that Bridgestone supplies to BMW for original equipment fitment on the i3 – is a format that lends itself to lower rolling resistance. Nokian says its developers optimised the Hakkapeliitta R2’s structural components for use on electric cars; Ahvenlammi elaborates that the tyre’s construction is firm, stiff and employs “several new material components” that combine to minimise the tyre’s heat generation and internal deformation. “This allows for extremely low rolling resistance that is world record class,” he adds. “In the future, we will be using the same technology in our other winter products.”
The tread compound used is the ‘Nokian Intelligent eSilica’ compound. This may mean very little to the average motorist, however Nokian says the molecular chains within the compound connect with the silica particles to form a strong but flexible combination. Thus, the tyre maker adds, the compound works very well across a wide temperature range, improving winter grip and further reducing rolling resistance. The tread pattern itself features sipes said to “function actively regardless of the changes in grip level and temperature.” Nokian reports that the compound creates exceptional grip on ice, snow, and wet roads, and excellent wear resistance. It also contains canola oil for added tear strength, increasing its durability and improving grip on snow and ice. The tread pattern resembles that on other sizes within the Hakkapeliitta R2 line-up – Nokian uses the emotive word “aggressive” to describe the arrow-like, v-shaped pattern.
Nokian Tyres attributes the characteristics of the size 155/70R19 84Q Hakkapeliitta R2 to a number of technologies. These, in the tyre maker’s own words, are:
Nokian Intelligent eSilica. Increased range, maximises winter grip: The rubber compound that works very well across a wide temperature range maximises the low rolling resistance and winter grip. The molecular chains of the tread compound combine with the silica particles to form an extremely strong, yet flexible combination. The sipes or grooves of the symmetrical tread pattern function actively regardless of the changes in grip level and temperature. The compound creates exceptional grip on ice, snow, and wet roads, and excellent wear resistance. The rapeseed oil used in the rubber compound adds tear strength, increasing the tyre’s durability, and improves grip on snow and ice.
Nokian Cryo Crystal Concept. First-class winter grip, more precise handling: Diamond-tough grip particles that have the appearance of a multi-edged crystal have been added to the rubber compound in order to improve grip on ice by grabbing onto the driving surface.
Pump sipes. More wet grip: The pocket-type sipes on the tyre shoulder remove, or even pump, water out of the road surface, ensuring stable and sure grip. The increased volume of the patented pump sipes and the large number of zigzag sipes further improve grip on wet and icy surfaces.
Grip claws. More grip on ice and snow: The grip claws located between the tread blocks improve grip on snow and ice, especially while braking and accelerating.
Sipe activators. Better grip on ice and snow: Sipe activators located on the edges of the tread boost the functionality of the sipes under the most slippery conditions. The wider sipe activates a narrower one.
Slush claws. Prevent slush-planing: To prevent slush-planing, sharp triangle-shaped slush penetrators were designed on the critical shoulder area. The slush claws on the shoulder area allow for optimal grip even in thick slush, and prevent the accumulation of slush between the tread blocks.