London – Royal Mail has started trialling tires from London-based ENSO Ltd in a bid to reduce the environmental impact of its electric vehicles, the UK postal company has announced.
The tires from “manufacturer” ENSO are claimed to produce fewer microparticles than conventional tires, according to Royal Mail's 19 Aug statement.
Tests carried out by ENSO, it added, have also shown that its tires can increase EV range by up to 11%, compared to standard tires.
Over the next six-to-nine months, a “partnership” between Royal Mail, ENSO and London authority Transport for London (TfL) will carry out tests on 15 electric vans based at a west London delivery centre.
The vehicles will be fitted with ENSO’s tires, which will be monitored and weighed every six weeks to track wear-rate, particulate emissions and range – relative to standard tires.
Checks will also ensure that the tires fitted are wearing properly and that there are no health, safety or vehicle wear and tear issues, said Royal Mail.
“If the trial is successful, its results may inform future purchasing decisions across Royal Mail’s fleet,” said the postal company.
Royal Mail said it selected ENSO because it was shortlisted alongside five other innovating businesses as part of a TfL ‘London FreightLab innovation challenge’.
ENSO’s tires, it noted, recently achieved a record for the longest distance ever driven by a Renault Zoe on a single charge, at 475 miles – 50 miles more than OEM tires in the same test.
The UK postal company's release did not include specific details about the design or composition of the tires or how/where they are being manufactured.
In response to ERJ’s questions about manufacture of the tires and the commercialisation plans, Gunnlaugur Erlendsson, founder and CEO at ENSO, declined to reply, apart from a comment that “at this stage we have not made announcements.”
For its part, Royal Mail press office said the ENSO tire construction “is based on premium manufacturing techniques, using the latest tire manufacturing equipment.”
The tires for the trial with Royal Mail, it added, have been optimised for EVs to deliver improved energy-efficiency by light-weighting with higher-grade raw materials and optimising the tire compound for improved efficiency and durability.
Royal Mail added that the tires under trial will also include bio-based/low-carbon raw materials and that ENSO tires “are tested and fully certified having already achieved ‘A’ energy-efficiency ratings by TÜV SÜD in Germany.”
ENSO, which was changed its name from ENSO Tyres Ltd in November 2020, lists only three directors as employees. The ownership seems to have had some links with previous ventures in the Scandinavian tire industry.
"Through TfL’s FreightLab trial with Royal Mail, we aim to demonstrate [the tires'] contribution towards reducing air pollution in London,” ENSO's Erlendsson said in the Royal Mail release about the EV tire trial.
“ENSO’s mission is to disrupt the £200-billion (€232 billion) global tire industry and deliver the most efficient, durable and sustainable tires for EVs,” Erlendsson further stated in the press announcement.
ENSO recently reported that it had secured significant funding from the UK Future Fund, HNW and other investors, ahead of a commercial launch in the UK this year, followed by Europe and North America.
In 2019, a UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) funding announcement described ENSO Tyres Ltd as being hosted by the Jaguar Land Rover InMotion Ventures Incubator in London.
ENSO, UKRI then stated, was "spearheading a consortium of industry-leading organisations, including Renault, ARRIVAL, Gnewt, E-Car Club, Heathrow Airport, TARRC, Gnosys and Emissions Analytics."