Electric vehicles will probably be the future of ground transportation in America. As charging networks, battery capacities, and demand for emissions-free vehicles increase, electrics are emerging as the best solution. But technology isn’t quite there yet, and one of the biggest issues EVs present is also one of the most overlooked: tires.

According to Cnet.com, a standard road tire can wear out 30% faster when installed on an EV. The average Tesla owner buys a third more tires than the average Camry driver. Why? Because of torque.


Torque is the tendency of a force to rotate an object. This is the energy that turns a car’s drive wheels. With a gas car, torque is produced when the engine creates a rotational force on the transmission (usually an automatic these days). The force is transferred through the gears of the transmission, into the differential, and through the drive axles before it can finally rotate the wheels. An electric motor sends power through the axles straight to the wheels. That means less torque lost from the source of the force to the wheels.

More importantly, an electric motor has 100% of its torque available instantly, while a gas engine takes time to reach its peak torque figure. That wicked acceleration a Model S produces in Ludicrous Mode? It’s all thanks to torque. 

But torque isn’t free. EV tires wear more quickly under all that force. They rub themselves out across the road surface in a million tiny burnouts. Many EVs have advanced traction control systems to prevent full, smokey burnouts, but the invisible wear can be just as impactful.

 

EVs are also far heavier than their gas counterparts. Batteries don’t have the energy density, or the wattage per pound of gasoline. So they necessarily weigh more. This extra weight increases friction on the tires, which wears them out more quickly.

EV manufacturers have reimagined cars, but not their tires. Tesla equips the Model 3 Performance with slightly different tires, but this doesn’t solve the problem. The Michelin Pilot Sport 98Y Acoustics features a band of foam padding inside the tire to reduce road noise. Apparently someone thought the car was still too loud without a gas engine. But the wear issue persists. 


Goodyear is working on a tire product specifically for EVs. Their EfficientGrip Performance concept features a tighter tread pattern, harder rubber compound, and a reshaped tire cavity to reduce deformation. Unfortunately it’s still just a concept. And while it’s not like that weird moss tire, being much closer to actual production, it’s not available for sale yet. New electric vehicle tires don’t quite exist yet.

So what can you and your EV do until the tire industry catches up to the car industry? 

  • Maintain your tires. Check out our article on regular tire maintenance. Tires are wear items, but you can still use techniques like regular alignments and proper inflation to make sure you’re not causing any uneven wear.
  • Drive easy. We get it. That instant torque is addictive. But a lighter foot will help slow down tire wear, reducing friction against the road service. Ludicrous mode is awesome, but it isn’t free.
  • Make sure your tires are in season. Some EVs, such as the Model 3, come with summer tires, depending on the area of sale. This boosts the performance aspect, but summer rubber won’t last as long in the winter. It’s a harder compound than all-season or winter rubber, and in freezing temperatures it will become hard and brittle, chipping away. Winter rubber stays soft in the cold, but will get even softer in hot weather, increasing wear. We recommend in-season or all-season tires.
  • Opt for smaller wheels. If you have the option, smaller wheels, and smaller tires, will often cost less than large wheels. They might not look as cool, but if you’re trying to squeeze an extra few cents out of every mile, smaller wheels could do the trick.
  • Investigate non-stock options. Many factory-recommended electric vehicle tires are designed to improve acceleration or reduce cabin noise, but if you’re willing to sacrifice those creature comforts, you may be able to find a more robust tire. The ride might be a little louder, but you won’t need to see the Zohr van as often.
  • Count on Zohr to offer the most advanced new tires on the market. When Goodyear or one of their competitors perfects the EV-specific tire, we’ll have it.
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