EV Tire News provided by

motortrend red rgb

How Tires Can Affect Your EV's Range and Performance

Time-tested advice and some new lessons about how to optimize the efficiency of an electric-vehicle's tires.
Electric Car Charging

Tires are an easy to overlook part of a car, in part because they're so durable and low-maintenance. But despite their willingness to put in years of thankless work, your electric car's tires are even more important to its overall performance and range than they are to a conventionally powered vehicle. Tire technology is an ever-developing field, and there are numerous factors than can influence an EV's range. Here are a handful of the most significant ways tires can affect an electric car's range.

Underinflated Tires

The easiest way to negatively impact your EV's range is to drive it on underinflated tires—even being low by a few PSI can make a meaningful difference in rolling resistance, and therefore efficiency. Air pressure in a tire can vary significantly over time and when the temperature changes, so it's worth checking the pressure in your tires at least once a month.

While you're checking the pressure and adding air as needed, you might as well spend a few seconds to check the depth of your tire's tread, too. A simple way to tell if you need to get new tires due to tread wear is to stick a penny in the tread and see if the top of Abe Lincoln's head is visible when you've rolled it into the groove. If you can see his entire presidential pate, it's time for a new set of tires. (Check out more on how to best care for your EV's tires)

Using EV Tires Not Intended For Your Car

As noted in our Mistakes to Avoid When Shopping For EV Tires article, tires that were originally equipped on your electric car were very likely developed for use on that car. Accordingly, the tire's characteristics such as noise profile, longevity, grip, and rolling resistance are sometimes optimized to that specific vehicle's traits. Regardless of whether the tire is optimized for the vehicle or not, an EV's tire choice is aimed at pleasing the widest segment of owners' possible, so chances are you're part of that segment.

If you find yourself wanting something more out of a set of tires than what your OE (original-equipment) fitment allows, particularly when weighing performance or wear rating factors, it's important to keep in mind that it's likely to result in a set of tradeoffs. For example, a tire with much greater grip will improve your EV's performance and braking, but might also increase noise and reduce range due to the different design of the tire carcass, tread, and/or compound. On the other hand, if you're after a tire that wears slower and lasts longer, you might find your electric car has reduced grip or lengthened braking distances.

cropped pilot sport ev full white car

Choosing a different tire than the ones with which your EV was originally equipped is always a viable option to be considered, but it's important to spend time doing research to find a tire that meets your needs. That said, the tires the manufacturer originally fitted to the car—tires that often undergo extensive testing and development to be optimized for that particular EV—are usually the best choice.

Using Tires Not Intended For EVs

No one is immune to the desire to save a few dollars, especially if it looks like you can get more or less the same thing at a lower cost. But in the case of tires, the devil is often in the details, and two tires that appear to be the same on the surface can, in fact, be very different. Even when the tires aren't hiding a subtle difference from their EV-suited alternatives, the EVs themselves play by different rules when it comes to the impact of rolling resistance on range compared to the effect rolling resistance has on the range of conventional internal combustion engine-powered (ICE) vehicles.

pilot sport ev white car tire focus

Because electric cars are much more efficient than combustion-engine cars, translating about 80 percent of their electricity into motion down road as opposed to the roughly 25 percent efficiency of ICE vehicles, an EV's rolling resistance is of much greater overall importance to the vehicle's range. Accordingly, any gains or losses in tire rolling resistance can have a direct and appreciable impact on overall electric vehicle range—about three times the effect such a change would have in a conventional gas-powered vehicle.

So, as easy to overlook as your EV's tires may be, it's well worth the effort to make sure you not only choose the correct tire for your electric car (be they the car's original set or a different tire entirely), but also to consistently maintain the tires themselves, too.

You are using an unsupported web browser
You are using a website browser that is not supported by this website. This means that some features may not work as intended. This may result in strange behaviors when browsing. Use or upgrade/install one of the following browsers to take full advantage of this website