"Electrifying" is the verdict of many visitors to this year’s Geneva Motor Show – and not just for the atmosphere at what is one of the world’s major auto-industry events. A host of new technology is on show, much of it revolving around electric cars.
Pirelli is no exception. Two much talked about electric supercars making their debut at the show – the Pininfarina Battista and the Italdesign DaVinci – are sporting the company’s first P Zero tyres designed for electric cars or plug-in hybrids. Marked ‘Elect’, they have been developed by Pirelli’s engineers to meet the technical demands of electric cars and are tailor-made for each model of vehicle that will use them. A new chapter in P Zero's thirty-year history but not the only one that was written at the Geneva Auto Show.
Other additions to the P Zero family – Pirelli’s most famous tyre brand – are the newly developed P Zero Winter tyre; Track Adrenaline – an app designed for circuit driving using specially equipped P Zero Trofeo R tyres; and the first homologated P Zero Color Edition tyres, developed with and for prestige car manufacturers. These developments meet consumer demand for greater personalisation and performance and are all on display at Pirelli’s Geneva stand, which is modelled on its concept store – P Zero World – now rolled out in four locations around the globe.
The ‘perfect fit’
“We continue to grow, partnering with the world’s most important carmakers and accompanying our customers at this important moment of technological transition in the automotive industry,” says Andrea Casaluci, General Manager Operations for Pirelli, which now supplies custom-made original equipment tyres to more than half the cars in the prestige sector. “P Zero represents the very essence of our strategy.”
Pirelli supplies custom-made original equipment tyres to more than half the cars in the prestige sector
Each type of P Zero tyre is developed jointly with the car manufacturer to deliver the performance needed to complement the technical characteristics of the specific model it is fitted to. Described as the “perfect fit” strategy, this has now been extended to winter driving with the arrival of the P Zero Winter tyre.
In developing the tyre, Pirelli’s engineers aimed to offer owners of supercars and luxury cars the same driving feel as the summer P Zero, making the change of season almost unnoticeable. They worked with the tyre compound, tread pattern and other technical solutions to adapt the tyre to cope with typical winter roads. The aim was to maintain levels of safety and control even in low-grip conditions, all the while accommodating the prodigious power and torque that performance cars generate.
For those who like to take their supercars to the track, Pirelli’s Cyber division has produced Track Adrenaline to provide real-time analysis of each track session. All information is provided on an app, which connects via Wi-Fi to sensors inside custom-made P Zero Trofeo R track tyres.
An electronic box fitted to the car gathers data and monitors tyre pressures and temperatures to provide the driver with advice on when to warm up the tyres, when the tyres are ready to push for a fast time in a “flying lap” and when it’s necessary to come into the pits.
Lap times, split times, maximum as well as average speeds, acceleration, braking, theoretically ideal laps and comparisons with previous sessions are among the displays the app can offer drivers. The Pirelli Track Adrenaline box is also equipped with a powerful GPS unit that guarantees precise geolocation and definition of racing lines, as well as timing.
The Pirelli Track Adrenaline box is equipped with a powerful GPS unit that guarantees precise geolocation and definition of racing lines
The system will be available for drivers to try at Pirelli’s track days held at famous circuits including Spa-Francorchamps, Yas Marina, Mugello and Silverstone, often in collaboration with the world’s most prestigious carmakers. It will be released in July.
Zero-emission motors are the talk of Geneva this year and Pirelli has been working with a number of car manufacturers to develop custom-made P Zero tyres – identified by the ‘Elect’ marking – for their latest models, although not all of them are as fast as the 1,900hp Pininfarina Battista.
There are several factors to take into account when producing tyres for electric cars. One is minimising rolling resistance, which helps to optimise the range of the car’s battery as it takes less energy to keep the car moving. Another focus is on reducing the sound produced by the tyres because with electric cars the engine is no longer the primary source of noise. And the tyres must also provide enough grip to cope with high demands from the transmission – electric motors deliver their maximum torque right at the bottom of the rev range and so need tyres that are able to bite into the asphalt instantly.
Welcome to Pirelli’s world
As consumer demand for personalisation increases, makers of premium and prestige cars are looking to introduce the option of tyres with coloured sidewalls. The Aston Martin DBS Superleggera will be among the first cars to be fitted with homologated Color Edition tyres and Pirelli is currently working with other manufacturers to develop their own P Zero Color Edition.
As consumer demand for personalisation increases, makers of premium and prestige cars are looking to introduce the option of tyres with coloured sidewalls
The Color Edition is now available across Pirelli’s tyres from the P Zero car range to the Diablo Supercorsa SP for motorbikes and the Velo for bicycles.
All are on display at Pirelli’s stand at the Geneva Motor Show, which recreates the mood of Pirelli’s line of “tyre boutiques” now open in Los Angeles, Munich, Monaco and Dubai, with Melbourne to follow in the second half of 2019. These P Zero World stores enable visitors to find the latest products in Pirelli’s range as well as other dedicated services and experience the full Pirelli culture.