Are there specially designed tyres for electric vehicles?

author

Joel Ilton

Monday, 2 September 2019

As more and more Australians think of upgrading to the latest and greatest technology in their vehicles, there are other components that need to be upgraded along with them. One of these is the tyres that are fitted to fully electric vehicles.

We all know that the tyres fitted at all four corners are the only contact your vehicle has with the road surface, but do electric vehicles put different demands on them? Can you just pop down to your local tyre shop when they are due to be replaced, or is there a more specialised tyre fitted required? Let's look at the differences below.

When comparing normal internal combustion-powered vehicles to fully electric vehicles in regards to tyres, the first difference is weight. When looking at a sedan sized vehicle, the electric version will be 100 - 200kg heavier due to the extra weight of the battery packs and electric motors.

While it doesn't sound like much, this additional weight needs to be supported by the suspension and tyres, and when the vehicle is moving at 100km/h, this places additional strain on the tyres.

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Another difference is the way an electric vehicle delivers its power to the road surface. Unlike the normal internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, electric vehicles deliver peak torque as soon as the accelerator is pressed down. This torque delivery puts tremendous strain on the tyres as they fight to grip the road surface.

The last difference is road noise and rolling resistance. With a traditional vehicle, the engine and transmission create noise which effectively ‘masks’ the wind and road noise that comes from the tyres as they roll over the road surface. With electric vehicles however, the motors are basically silent, which mean that road noise is much more evident.

The range of an electric vehicle can also be adversely affected by the tyres fitted to it. Tyres that have a high rolling resistance require more power to keep them rotating, increasing the amount of energy used from the batteries and reducing the effective range.

So, as you can see, electric vehicles have unique operating conditions that put different stresses on their tyres. That is why more and more tyre manufacturers are coming out with tyres specially designed for electric vehicles that can handle the increase in torque, are quieter and have a lower rolling resistance.

Most tyre shops will be able to fit these tyres for you, as there are no real differences in the installation process. These special tyres can be quite expensive, but as more and more passenger vehicles move towards electricity as their main power source, the technology will be more readily available to create cost-effective tyres that can handle anything an electric vehicle can throw at them.

author

WRITTEN BY

Joel Ilton

Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.

After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.

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