Electric cars are known to have lower maintenance and running costs than conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. This is due to lower number of parts and efficient electric drivetrains. So why are owners reporting higher levels of tire wear? Even Michelin, a major manufacturer of tires, reports that EVs will consume regular tires about 20% faster on average than on gasoline cars. This is due to two primary reasons.
EVs Are Heavier
Electric cars are usually heavier than the equivalent combustion powered cars. The high voltage battery in the car floor is the heaviest component of the car, and this adds weight in comparison to an ICE drivetrain with engine/transmission/fuel. More weight pressing down on the tire’s contact area will produce more friction and wear down the tire faster.
Improved manufacturing techniques and innovations can work to reduce weight gap between electric and gasoline powered cars. For example; Tesla is developing strategies to reduce part counts by casting large sections of the car body and integrating the battery pack into the structure of the car. But for now, EVs will be notably heavier than ICE cars.
Many EV’s also come with relatively skinnier tires than gasoline cars in order to improve efficiency, but this also means more weight pressing against a smaller tire contact patch on the ground. For example; The Ford Mustang Mach-E comes standard with tires only 215mm wide, which is unusually narrow for a vehicle of this weight and size. Most mid-size crossovers have tires that are 235mm or wider. More weight pressing against a smaller contact area will contribute to faster tire wear.
Instant Torque, And More Of It
What is instant torque? Torque is the twisting force generated by the engine/motor. To put simply, the vehicle occupants will feel torque when they are pressed back against the seat during acceleration. A combustion engine will have a lower amount of torque from standstill, and gradually build torque as the engine increases speed.
An electric motor does not need to build up speed to reach peak torque. Most of the twisting force of the motor is available in the instant the vehicle starts moving. Hitting the accelerator hard from a stoplight is a lot of fun in an EV, but it causes a lot of strain on tires. A stationary tire needs to overcome static friction in order to begin motion, and applying a lot of torque from a standstill will stress the tire materials greatly.
In addition to instant torque delivery, EVs will generally have more torque available than equivalent gasoline combustion cars. For example; the Hyundai Kona with the 2.0L engine has 132 lb.ft of torque, while the Kona Electric has 291 lb.-ft.
How to get more life out of tires on EVs?
1. Ease Onto The Go Pedal
It is fun and addicting to launch quickly from stop signs and streetlights, but this tends to shred tires prematurely. Try slow rolling and gradually depressing the accelerator pedal from a stop. You could still enjoy the thrill by accelerating quickly while already in motion, but full throttle launches will prematurely wear out the tire tread.
2. Proper Tire pressures
Check tire pressures regularly. Incorrectly inflated tires may increase energy consumption and also increase wear. Because EVs are heavier, the recommended tire pressures may be higher than you expect compared to conventional combustion engine cars. Check your manufacturer manual or door frame stickers for recommended pressures.
3. Rotate Tires Every 6 Months
Most manufacturers recommend tire rotation every six months to distribute tire wear more evenly. Front-wheel-drive cars tend to wear out their front tires more quickly, and the opposite is true for rear-wheel-drive cars. Even if your EV is all-wheel-drive, it will not wear the tires at the same rate.
4. Avoid Staggered Wheel Setup, If Possible
Some performance oriented models such as the Porsche Taycan or the Tesla Model Y Performance have wider tires in the rear than in the front. This helps with acceleration and handling, but comes with additional costs. It is not possible to rotate staggered tires. Therefore, owners of these high performance models will need to replace the rear sets of tires more frequently.
In the case of the Tesla Model Y Performance, the front tires are 255mm wide and the rears are 275mm. Opting for a Long Range trim means using 255mm tires on all four corners.
5. Use EV Specific Tires
Major tire manufacturers such as Michelin and Pirelli have developed specific tires models for the unique requirements of EVs. Special rubber compounds and noise insulation materials help the tires deal with increased torque and quiet performance of EV drivetrains. Although EV specific tires may be slightly more costly than regular tires, these tires generally last longer and produce less road noise. Consider EV specific tires for your next set.