Whether it’s normal wear, a slow air leak, or a sudden puncture, all tires need to be replaced at some point. Which part to buy is a big decision for any car, but it’s even more so for electric vehicles. Their performance and efficiency have a great impact on range, therefore it is advisable to know what characteristics tires that are specially designed for electric vehicles should offer.
Manufacturers have recently begun to market specific tires for electric vehicles. These are usually special versions of a brand’s regular tires, tuned to provide less rolling resistance. These tires are specifically designed for vehicles that are heavier, more powerful, and quieter than cars with internal combustion engines. So how does an EV-specific tire differ from a regular tire?
Electric vehicles need a specific tire because they are designed with efficiency in mind. They offer less rolling resistance than regular tires, which means they create less friction when rolling on the ground and therefore require less energy to keep you moving, which means a longer range.
Rolling resistance is affected by many factors: air pressure, rim diameter, tread design, and the rubber the tires are made from. This can have all sorts of features; Some compounds create more grip, others wear less over time, and some are better on wet surfaces.
EV tires typically wear out faster, though not always. The reason is that the battery makes them heavier and that additional weight puts more pressure on them, increasing wear. In addition, electric motors are also usually more powerful than gasoline engines and generate higher instantaneous torque.
As for noise, in combustion vehicles, the rolling is partially hidden by the sounds of the engine. The electric ones, by eliminating these sounds, do allow these sounds to filter through and if the tread of the tires is not designed correctly, this effect will be noticeable in the passenger compartment.
The efficiency of an electric vehicle is more sensitive to changes in air pressure. The reason is, again, that electric vehicles are significantly heavier than combustion ones. Because a flat tire is less rigid and deforms, those mounted on a heavy electric vehicle will deform more for the same pressure loss. Therefore, EV owners need to check their tire pressure frequently and refill them as needed to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure.
Lastly, a larger wheel diameter reduces overall efficiency and therefore range. This is an effect that is reflected in the technical specifications of the vehicles themselves: a larger wheel option means less range. The reason is that they require more energy to get moving, and it is precisely when starting from a standstill that the most energy is consumed.
Price-wise, EV-specific tires cost a bit more than standard tires of the same dimensions and features, at least for now. However, it is to be expected that this difference will be reduced and even reversed when electric vehicles outsell combustion vehicles.