Electric car tires: everything you need to know

Electric car tires: everything you need to know

Electric car tires

Electric cars have generated a lot of hype with many questions about batteries, engines, charging points and onboard technology. But what about the tires? The truth is that they are mutating too, as major manufacturers are hard at work developing special tires only for electric vehicles needed to maximize mileage and handle torque and power at the same time. Several models are already available on the market and we are sure that further versions of various kinds will arrive in the course of a few months.

Electric vehicle tires have a really complicated development: they must be robust but light, efficient but convenient and , of course, durable over time. Furthermore, considering the deadly silence that prevails inside electric cars, they must necessarily be quiet but comfortable. To maximize efficiency, in addition to tires, it is always advisable to use rims specifically designed for electric vehicles such as the OZ Superturismo Aero-E that we have mounted on a Tesla Model 3.

Recently, during the test of the futuristic Hyundai Ioniq 5, we found with a modicum of surprise that EV tires are already a reality; but what really changes?

Michelin Pilot Sport EV

Mass and load

Let's start by remembering that an electric car, of the same size, can weigh up to 40% more of an endothermic counterpart. While it is true that the mechanics are reduced to almost zero, on the other it should be remembered that the insertion of a battery pack can raise the weight of up to 400 kg. The most obvious differences are on compact cars like the Opel Corsa-e, a car that we had the opportunity to test for several days; here the weight increases by over 300 kg.

In addition, the insertion of the battery in the floor changes the center of gravity and consequently the set-up making the work of the tires even more demanding. In this context, therefore, greater robustness is required to withstand the greater loads in acceleration, braking and of course steering.

Energy savings

Energy savings and consequently autonomy represent two definitely not negligible aspects. Therefore, the tread must offer limited friction in order not to waste too much energy and also allow good recovery phases in deceleration conditions. As for endothermic with low power, it is therefore advisable to have a narrow tread but at the same time difficult to deform.

Some manufacturers declare in this context an increase of up to 5-7% of range if specific tires are used designed for electric cars. An ideally contained value which, however, on some models, could allow a greater measurable autonomy in 30-40 km.

Absolute silence

Anyone who has ever traveled by electric car, in any mode, will probably have appreciated the total absence of mechanical noises; in these scenarios, in fact, it is only possible to perceive the noise generated by the rolling of the tires and the aerodynamic rustle. While the second aspect is closely linked to the design of the car, the first point can undergo even radical changes based on the structure of the tire. The same tire mounted on a traditional or electric car would certainly be perceived as noisier in the second case. Whoever makes the transition, every year, between summer and winter certainly manages to understand this aspect better; the winter tires, thanks to the tread that is carved to facilitate the flow of water, are generally noisier than a summer train.

Rigid or flexible?

While the answer could be seem obvious, we have to deal with the torque of electric cars: very high. For this reason, tires with low friction and little ability to deform would risk not being able to discharge all the torque to the ground, creating annoying skidding. It is difficult to imagine creating a rubber suitable for any situation and for this reason, as on endothermic, it is necessary to compromise and find the most suitable model according to your use.

For example in the city, where the speeds are moderate, you can focus your efforts on efficiency at the expense of driving dynamics, while on larger vehicles more suited to long journeys it is necessary to take into account different aspects.

Summer o winter

The so-called “EV tires” are not limited to just the summer climate and, although they are still a poorly known technological solution, some manufacturers have already made proposals for colder climates. The choice of winter tires for electric (and hybrid) cars follows the same rule as the endothermic ones: under the threshold of 7 degrees, summer tires cannot be performing and safe in all driving conditions.

Michelin Pilot Sport EV

At what price?

As indicated at the beginning, most of the major tire manufacturers have specific variants or precise models on their list expressly dedicated to electric cars, with drastically different dimensions compared to cars traditional. Models which, due to their unique features, tend to be more expensive on average than petrol-powered versions. Generally speaking, for the same size, we have observed an increase of 20-30% in the cost of a complete set of tires, a figure that is not negligible at the moment but which could level out in the future with the adoption of new technologies and a greater diffusion of tires themselves.

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