Do electric cars need special tyres?

Discover everything you need to know on tyres for electric cars, how they are different to those fitted on a standard vehicle, and how the right tyres contribute to range, energy consumption and the overall driving experience.

Why do electric car tyres and standard tyres need to be different?

Electric cars feature heavy batteries, so they need tyres which can carry the extra weight. While the battery of an electric car stores the energy, it’s the electric motor that provides the instant torque (and no sound inside the car!). With an electric vehicle, as soon as you press the accelerator, you immediately deploy 100% of the vehicle’s power. This means weight transfers are sharper, and a lot more intense than with a combustion-powered vehicle. This also affects the impact on wear and tear of the tyres.

Michelin designs its electric car tyres differently to take this into account, mostly in the structure of the tyres and its materials.

The second factor that requires electric car tyres to differ from standard tyres is noise. But an electric car is silent, right? Without the noise of a combustion engine, the sound of the tyres on the road surface is much more noticeable in an electric car. So, manufacturers have to create tyres that are far quieter. Thus, perceived interior noise is reduced. For example: in an orchestra, when you have a drum and a flute playing at the same time you mostly hear the drum. But when the drum stops, the sound of the flute appears more clearly. The same happens when switching to an electric vehicle: the thermal engine which generates most of the noise is replaced by an almost-silent electric motor, and the noise of the tyres is more apparent.

For this reason, the MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV tyres are equipped with innovative Michelin Acoustic technology which reduces the perceived noise level inside the car by up to 20%.(1)

The third factor specific to electric cars is the battery range, especially on long trips. Through rolling resistance, tyres contribute to electric consumption. The MICHELIN e·Primacy tyres is encouraging the transition to electric mobility. Its rolling resistance performance in the premium replacement tyres market improves an EV’s energy efficiency, thereby increasing its range by an estimated 7% or around 30 km for a vehicle with a range of 400 km. vs other tyres of its category (2)(3)

How do electric car tyres improve battery range?

Fitting your EV with electric car tyres ensures you get optimal battery range.

How do tyres improve range? Keep in mind that to move an object, you need to give it energy. And between the energy it receives and the energy it gives back in the form of movement, there is always some loss because the tyre must relay some energy to the ground. This is called rolling resistance.

One of the objectives of tyre manufacturers is to limit this energy loss in order to optimise energy efficiency and reduce unnecessary energy consumption. And, when it comes to electric vehicles, the more energy is optimised, the more range the vehicle has to play with!

When choosing your tyres, you can check the tyres labelling to choose the lowest rolling resistance tyre and benefit from its performance to drive for longer on a single charge.

Do electric vehicles cause more wear and tear to tyres?

The biggest factor for electric cars, when compared to normal cars, is the dynamic load transfers and braking torque linked to this specific kind of engine. This is a challenge for manufacturers because the mass and the torque increase require tyres with more lateral rigidity (cornering stiffness), to maintain the handling sensation at an important level, a strong grip for maximum acceleration, and plenty of longevity to minimise wear mile after mile.

Battery weight is an important issue for electric sports cars. If you have a powerful electric motor, you need to have a powerful battery, and this results in weight. 400kg is the average weight for a battery in an electric sports car.

Today car makers propose two kinds of electric vehicles:

  • Regular vehicles retrofitted to become electric
  • Brand new platform
     

In the case of regular vehicle retrofitted, usually tyre sizes does not change much compared to ICE (Internal Combustion Engine). Thus, tyres on retrofitted electric vehicles may wear faster than they did when they had an engine.

For brand new platform electric vehicles, mass and torque are considered from the beginning, tyre size is adjusted and is usually taller and sometimes narrow than the equivalent ICE tyres. Thus, the tyre wear on this EV will be similar to its equivalent ICE.

Why are there different tyre options for electric vehicles?

It’s crucial to have the right tyres for an electric car, depending on its type. A tyres needs to respond to different driving demands. A driver of a sports car wants fast acceleration, great torque transmission and high precision at the steering wheel. A driver of a sedan is more likely to prioritise safety and driving comfort.

Michelin has created two ranges of specific tyres for electric carsMICHELIN Pilot Sport EV and MICHELIN e·Primacy. Each range offers different performance balances depending on what you are looking for.

How do I maximise the life of my electric car tyres?

As for any other tyres, there are two main ways you can protect your electric car tyres and thereby optimise their lifetime: maintenance and driving style.

Electric tyres maintenance involves monitoring the pressure, alignment and wear. The pressure should  be adapted depending on the load being carried. But how to find out the ideal tyre pressure? It’s simple! Cars feature a sticker from the manufacturer, often inside the driver’s door or fuel cap, which indicates the recommended pressure for specific tyre sizes. There are also recommendations according to whether the car is loaded or not.

Eco-driving is an expression we hear more and more these days, and with good reason. With the objective of reducing energy consumption, the right driving style not only maximises the range of an electric vehicle, it also optimises tyre quality and performance.

In summary, driving style is particularly important to maximising the life of your tyres. Use moderate acceleration and gentle, regenerative braking. Take corners carefully. That’s the best way to extend both battery range, and the longevity of your electric car tyres.

While it’s always a good idea to fit your electric car with tyres that are specially made for it, remember our non-electric offers can also be very efficient for electric vehicles! Ultimately, we’re sure you’ll find the right tyre that fits your car and driving style with the help of your dealer and MICHELIN tyre selector.

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LEGAL MENTIONS

(1) Internal noise measurement, done in 2016 on size 245/45 R19 on KIA Cadenza. Noise level measured in the range "170-230Hz". Results may vary according to vehicle, tyres range and size, speed and road conditions.

 

(2) - MICHELIN e·PRIMACY category of tyres is defined as one of the Premium summer tyres such as CONTINENTAL, GOODYEAR, BRIDGESTONE, PIRELLI, DUNLOP brands, and which are not dedicated to Original Equipment application (i.e. not designed to achieve car manufacturers specific targets) but tyres that can be purchased from retailers.

Increased EV battery range and CO₂ reduction - When new, MICHELIN e·PRIMACY generates 2kg/t on average Rolling Resistance less than competitors, equivalent in fuel consumption reduction of up to 0.21l/100km, equivalent of a gain in CO2 emission up to 5g for a VW Golf 7 1.5 TSI or equivalent of gain of up to 7% in autonomy for a VW e.Golf.

 

(3) - Rolling Resistance internal study conducted in 10/2020, on dimension 255/45 R19, comparing MICHELIN Pilot Sport EV (6.7kg/t) versus MICHELIN Pilot Sport 4 SUV (8.8kg/t). For an electrical vehicle of a mass 2151kg, with an autonomy of 540km, this gap of 2.1kg/t drives to a gain of autonomy of more than 60km, or more than 10% of the initial range.