Electric cars are the future of motoring. Demand for them is continuously on the rise, and they’re starting to become a regular presence on our highways. And while there are many obvious differences between electric cars and regular cars, there are a few things that remain the same.
For all the complicated things going on under the hood of an electric car, the tires can seem fairly standard. They look and feel just like any old tire. Most of the time, the tires on an electric car are the regular models.
However, the extra weight of an electric car does make a difference on the wear of the tire. Although many electric cars do use the same equipment, specialty tires are being developed. Soon, many electric cars may come with tires built specifically to match the needs of the vehicle.
Do electric cars wear down tires quickly?
If you’re thinking of purchasing an electric vehicle (EV), then you may be worrying about the tires. Rumors have spread that the tires of an electric car will wear down incredibly quickly. For an already expensive car, the cost of regular tire replacement can seem off-putting.
This isn’t exactly inaccurate. An EV is heavier in general than a regular car. The lithium-ion battery can potentially add over 600 pounds of weight. The effect this has on the tires is understandable. The heavier frame and battery weighs down the tire, and the tread becomes worn away fast.
It isn’t just the weight that can take a toll on the tires. Electric vehicles have a huge amount of power that they deliver quickly – and instant torque can put a significant strain on the average tire.
And then there’s the braking. Electric cars use regenerative braking, which slows down the car by a system of converting energy. This can lead to a long braking process, which is great for the brakes, but not so great for the tires.
The end result is that normal tires on an electric car will wear down faster. They’re actually estimated to wear down 20-30% faster than on a regular car. Out on the road, the tires will be put under increased pressure, and they just aren’t designed for it.
What specialty tires are available for electric cars?
As the demand for EVs grows, as does the market for special tires. Multiple brands now build and market their own tires, specifically designed for use with an EV.
There are a few key features to look out for:
- Durability. This is the big one, as the tires need to handle the extra weight and torque of an EV. However, the tires can’t just be heavier, or they won’t be able to keep up with the acceleration. Durable materials and a well-designed tread work together to distribute the weight of the car and reduce the strain on the tires.
- Rolling resistance. For a regular car, the rolling resistance rating is a small consideration. However, on an EV, the rolling resistance is significantly more important. Rolling resistance is the energy the tire loses on the road. Changes to tread and material improves the rolling resistance, so less energy is lost.
- Shape and aerodynamics. The aerodynamics of the tire feed back to the rolling resistance. Tires designed specifically for EVs are narrow and tall, cutting through the air to lower the energy lost.
- Noise, vibration, harshness. Known as NVH, the noise of the tire is surprisingly important. EVs are quiet by design, so the tires need to match. Otherwise, a driver can only hear the tire, and none of the surrounding vehicles.
In the future, keep an eye out for airless tires. They’re supposed to have a similar performance to pneumatic tires, but are better for the environment.
Although still fairly niche, airless tires may be making their way onto motorways sooner than you think.
Do electric cars need special tires?
An electric car doesn’t need special tires, but they do help. It’s generally fine to put standard tires on an EV. Some electric cars will come with regular tires fitted anyway.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using a specialty tire. The major disadvantage is the initial cost. Tires designed to be used for an electric car are heavier, and carefully engineered. While the advantage is they wear out slower, they also come at a higher price.
However, in the long run, this additional cost will likely even out. The durable tire will withstand the demands of an electric car better, meaning they don’t need to be regularly replaced. Instead, you have a long-lasting tire that can keep up with your car.
The other advantages of the special tire also outweigh the cost. A major plus is safety. Special tires for electric cars are often quieter, which is particularly useful when you consider just how quiet the car itself is.
With a standard tire, the sound motorists will hear the most is the tire itself. With the whisper quiet of a special tire, surrounding traffic is more apparent, making for a safer journey.
As well as this, the tires are designed to match the exact specifications of an electric car. Designers have taken into account the immediate torque and the regenerative brakes, and created a tire that can work alongside these needs.
Overall, purchasing special tires specifically designed for an EV is the best idea. They allow the car to run at peak performance, and they last longer.
Taking care of your electric vehicle tires
Specialty tires for an electric vehicle are smart, but they’re also an investment. Although they may last longer overall, they’re still vulnerable to the wear and tear of the roads. To ensure your tires were the right choice, it’s important to treat them with care.
The good news is, caring for your tires for an electric car is the same as caring for any other tire. Keep them inflated, have them balanced, and get them rotated. The end result – a smooth ride that lasts for longer.