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Our cities are changing. They're becoming smarter, people are moving differently, and everyone is thinking more about the environmental impact of the way they live. This means the city is evolving and climate-friendly mobility is already playing a huge role in this transformation. Whether residents are embracing micro-mobility solutions such as scooters and e-bikes or hopping on an electric bus to go to work, there's been a clear shift in cities across the world.

The electrification of buses is a trend that's been picked up on by many cities and OEMs, driven by VECTO emissions regulations. This is welcomed by residents after the pandemic shone a light on localised pollution in cities. Analysis of 49 UK cities in 2020 showed that, while the spring lockdown reduced NO2 levels by 38 percent on average, 80 percent of those cities are now back to pre-pandemic levels of pollution.

Connected and electric public transport is playing a large role in the evolution of cities across Europe. Many cities are already running battery-electric and fuel-cell-electric buses but what's next for green mobility?

The future is autonomous

Tests are ongoing with autonomous and semi-autonomous buses to take e-mobility to the next level. Across the globe, Goodyear is involved in a range of different test projects for these vehicles. It's important to study the operation and maintenance areas that need to be addressed for these electric vehicles — including future tyre technology options, too.

In the city centre of Luxembourg, the company is outfitting three 100% electric self-driving shuttle buses with intelligent tyres to better link retail areas around municipalities. On each shuttle, the tyres are equipped with sensors to collect operational data, which Goodyear engineers and data scientists then use to map predictive maintenance and other performance benefits.

Even now, this technology is being put into place to support the move towards advanced electric transport. Within this, there are two prime considerations regarding electric buses. The first is range.

Minimising charging stops

For a city's transport system to run efficiently, the range of an electric bus needs to be predictable and the more miles a single bus can do, the more people it can serve without delay. Tyres play a large role in this because even a small drop in tyre pressure can reduce the range of a heavy vehicle such as a bus. Not only that but the rolling resistance of a tyre can also have an impact on the total range of the bus. To maximise range, Goodyear's low-rolling-resistance tyres have been tested on a variety of buses. Not only do they provide benefits to electric vehicles, but they help ICE vehicles meet VECTO targets, too.

The more power an electric vehicle has to use to turn the wheels, the more battery power it will use. Both the tyre and road surface type can positively or negatively impact rolling resistance. This might seem like an insignificant thing over a single bus journey but by reducing that resistance across a whole fleet of buses travelling across a city, the miles saved soon add up.

When a bus returns to its depot for a charge, this is a great time to check tyre pressures. This job is made simple with the award-winning technology, the Goodyear drive-over-reader, which automatically checks the pressure and condition of the tyres and feeds it back to the fleet manager. Helping to secure no bus will leave the depot with under-inflated tyres that could impact range or even worse cause delays for passengers.

Proper pressures and low rolling resistance can also improve another consideration of electric transport: noise.

Reducing noise pollution

With no noise from an internal combustion engine, the only noise produced by an electric bus is its connection to the road. Tyres with a lower rolling resistance will generate less noise than a standard bus tyre. This is not only great for passengers but also for pedestrians and residents within the city.

Tyre technology is developing quickly, too. In seeing how traditional tyres operate— sound resonates through the cavity that's filled with air — airless constructions, such as the Goodyear DURAWEB can also positively impact the city environment. Not only would these reduce road noise but, without air, they can't go flat. This improves the uptime of fleets.

Electric buses are a vital part of this evolution and forecasts from Interact Analysis state that approximately 40 percent of Europe's new city buses in 2025 will be battery-electric.We can expect our cities to become greener, cleaner and smarter in the coming years.