The right tyres on your electric car will improve your car’s range and road handling as well as reducing your running costs.
Tyre design is complex balancing competing aims: they need to be sticky enough to keep you on the road but not so sticky that they lead to extra fuel consumption to keep them rolling. The popularity of electric cars has put a spotlight on these factors, not forgetting that one of the reasons to switch is to reduce the impact of travel on the local environment. With no tailpipe emissions and significantly reduced use of brake pads and discs, electric cars have a very positive impact on local air quality and owners want to keep tyre pollution to a minimum too.
Range and fuel efficiency is really important which means that drag from tyres must be minimised along with the energy required to keep the tyre rolling – this is referred to as rolling resistance. Manufacturers are using special materials and design features to reduce friction and maximise range.
At the moment EVs tend to be heavier than their petrol/diesel counterparts and they accelerate at a faster rate, particularly between 0-40mph. The tyres need to be robust enough to withstand the additional loads, but also weigh as little as possible!
The absence of an engine to drown out road noise has prompted manufacturers to incorporate sound deadening materials into tyres as an extra degree of refinement.
Many tyre manufacturers have now launched EV specific tyres which pricewise sit mid-range with premium options also available. The bespoke structures, tread patterns and quality will enhance your range, the driving experience and ensure that tyres go the distance.
Bridgestone: ENLITEN technology reduces rolling resistance and weight. The tyre sidewalls are marked as tailor-made for EVs and are the first choice of BMW and Skoda. Bridgestone are also pioneering retread programmes to improve resource productivity and reduce CO2 emissions, supporting a more circular economy for tyres.
Continental: high-tech compound with grip additives produce a robust tyre that allows for varying road conditions. Their ContiSilent technology is designed to reduce noise inside vehicles by 9 dB(A) and is the first choice of Tesla and Polestar.
Hankook: specialising in low weight, high load-bearing capacities and compound that has been specified to meet the high torque capabilities of electric cars. The iON evo performs particularly well in the wet and are the first choice for VW Group and Porsche.
Michelin: e.Primacy are designed to increase range by up to 7% with excellent rolling resistance, an energy passive compound that reduces energy dissipation and a slim belt for less raw material content. These are award-winning, offer excellent longevity and safety and are the first choice of the Stellantis group (including Peugeot, Fiat and Vauxhall).
Should I put EV-specific tyres on my electric car?
EVE: Yes! With EV tyres your electric car will be more fuel efficient, quieter and it will perform better, particularly when accelerating, cornering and emergency braking. Over the life of the tyre it will reduce your running costs.
Do tyres on electric cars wear out faster than on ICE cars?
EVE: If you choose EV tyres that are designed to cope with the extra loads associated with an electric car, they will last the same time as the tyres on an equivalent ICE car. Taxi fleets using Nissan Leaf have reported that tyres usually last between 30,000-36,000 miles on the rear wheels and 20,000 miles on the fronts.
Are tyres for an electric car more expensive than for ICE cars?
EVE: EV-specific tyres are more highly engineered than basic tyres available for ICE cars. This means that EV tyres are mid-range in price rather than budget. For example, Nissan recommend Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance 2 which cost around £129 each (fitted). This compares with £127 per tyre for a petrol Nissan Qashqai on the Nissan recommended Continental EcoContact6.
Are there extra maintenance checks for tyres on an electric car?
EVE: No! Periodically you should check your tyres for damage and tread depths – the legal minimum is 1.6mm but we recommend changing your tyres once they go below 3mm. All EV tyres have tread wear indicators moulded into the tread grooves at regular intervals. If you run a finger in the tread grooves and find that these indicators are level with the tread surface, or if you find damage to the tyre(s), you should replace. If the tread surface is above the wear indicator your tyre is likely above the legal limit. For complete peace of mind use a tread depth gauge.
It is also important to set tyre pressures to the correct level which can be found either in owners’ manuals or on stickers on the driver or passenger door sills. Once set at the correct pressure your car’s tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) will do the job of checking that it has not changed. Always investigate the reason for a TPMS warning light (when safe to do so).
Do electric cars produce more tyre emissions than ICE cars?
EVE: If you choose EV tyres and use regen braking drive modes, your electric car will produce similar levels of tyre emission to a fossil-fuelled car. As the weight of EV models reduces over the next few years, electric cars have the capacity to produce fewer tyre emissions than the fossil-fuel cars they are replacing. This is because drivers use regen braking or single-pedal driving to decelerate rather than applying force through the brake pedal. EV drivers are also more likely to drive smoothly to maximise fuel efficiency (range).
What are tyre emissions?
EVE: Tyres are made from synthetic rubber, a derivative of oil, and contain a number of toxic organic compounds. As they make contact with the road they release tiny particles which pollute the air, soil and water. Particulate matter from tyre wear is a significant source of ‘microplastics’ in rivers and oceans. Tyre wear is at its highest during sharp acceleration and braking and on poor road surfaces.