EV tyres: which electric car tyres are best?


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► What sort of tyres do EVs need?
► We research the best electric car tyres
► From rolling resistance to durability 

Car tyres aren’t sexy, no, but tyre technology can be pretty interesting these days. Especially when it comes to electric vehicles (EVs). As the sales of electric cars continues to grow, you might be tempted to stick any old car tyre on your more eco-friendly motor. But that would be a bad thing both for the car and for your running costs.

Why? EVs are heavier than their petrol or diesel equivalent. Putting extra wear on tyres isn’t advisable. Moreover, maximising range is the ultimate goal of most EVs and the wrong choice of tyre could limit the distance you can drive on one charge by up to 20%. Not great if you’re not a fan of sitting at a charge point for longer than absolutely necessary.

What are EVs really like to live with? Our panel of owners reveal all

Do EVs have different car tyres?

Yes. Tyres for battery electric vehicles, whether full EV or a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), face the usual hurdles as regular tyres (cost, durability, wet-weather handling, noise and so on), but they also come with their own special needs. Challenges unique to cars with electrification include:

  • Aerodynamics Range is paramount on EVs, so drag must be kept low to cleave the air cleanly
  • Durability EVs are heavy and cornering forces higher; the tyre walls must be able to withstand this extra wear
  • Noise, vibration, harshness (NVH) Because EVs are so quiet anyway, refinement takes on extra importance
  • Rolling resistance The energy required to keep the tyre rolling must be super-low; EV tyres reduce the ‘hysteresis’, or energy loss through clever low-drag materials
  • Size Thin, tall tyre sizes (called ‘olgoic’ dimensions) are common on EVs to reduce the frontal area (witness the BMW i3’s narrow tyres)
  • Weight Though they need to be more robust, they also need to weigh as little as possible to avoid adding any unnecessary grams to an already heavy vehicle
Bridgestone will mark its EV-specific tyres with a charging logo

To meet these extra demands, most EV tyre manufacturers are creating car tyres specifically for electric vehicles. Though they look very similar to any other car tyre from the outside, the inside – if the tyre were to be sliced in two for a profile view – looks very different.

Lightweighting technologies and a dual-layer carcass set the best EV tyres apart from their ICE counterparts. Tread patterns are different because there’s more weight from the car to displace water, too. Braking distances aren’t noticeable in day-to-day driving but in an emergency, the EV tyres will handle the heavier weight of the vehicle in a shorter distance, the manufacturers claim.

The all-round package EV-developed tyres offer the car’s driving experience is significantly better, so we advise you fit the tyres as recommended by your manufacturer for your electric car.

The best electric car tyres 2022

Bridgestone Turanza Eco
Award-winning EV tyre from one of the most recognised brands in the market, the Turanza Eco introduced a label to help motorists pick it out from non-ICE tyres. More on these below.

Continental Conti.eContact
Conti’s SportContact 5 Silent model is Tesla’s ‘manufacturer’s choice’ so hopes are high for the Conti.eContact electric-only car tyres. Sitting between the price of Pirellis (slightly cheaper) and Michelin (way more expensive), these summer tyres are proving themselves to be great… provided you only use them in summer.

Hankook Ventus S1 eco 3 ev
Selected by VW Group to furnish the ID.3, ID.4 and Porsche Taycan, Hankook is also the tyre manufacturer for the all-electric racing series, Formula E.

Michelin Pilot Sport EV
Previously the provider for six seasons of the Formula E, Michelin has proven its capability for creating reliable EV tyres. Selected by Lucid to furnish the rims of the 2022 Air, its reputation isn’t harmed by the switch on the racing circuit. Michelins don’t come cheap though. The Michelin Energy EVs have been around for longer, having been fitted to new Renault Zoes. Grip impressed and durability was middling, but price was a turn-off.

Pirelli P Zero Elect
Picked by BMW for the iX, Pirelli says its tyres are suited to electric SUVs or hatchbacks. Given how important tyres are to safety and enjoyment of the drive, and that Pirellis tend to be more competitively priced performance tyres, we’re minded to plump for these, budget permitting.

FAQ: electric car tyres expert reveals all

We interviewed Emilio Tiberio, COO & CTO of Bridgestone EMIA, who explained how his company made EV tyres last longer and perform better. Bridgestone published a survey suggesting that half of European drivers are considering buying an electric vehicle but that 37% are ‘still sceptical about doing so due to concerns around efficiency and limited range.’ 

Bridgestone recently showcased a hyper-efficient EV tyre for the new Lightyear One solar-powered electric car (below). We caught up with Tiberio to find out how this concept tyre would influence more common EV tyres.

Bridgestone has developed a new lightweight EV tyre specifically for the Lightyear One

How did you develop the tyres for the Lightyear One?
‘We brought together two different technology packages for the first time: we used what we call ‘Ologic’ technology – tyres that are narrow but tall to reduce the aerodynamic drag. These 19in tyres with very high diameter have better rolling resistance and this means better battery efficiency.’

Why is weight important for EV tyres?
‘We also use our Enliten technology. We use this when we build very light tyres. It’s good for sustainability and we use fewer resources to make them. On the Lightyear One, it means we could reduce the weight of all four tyres by 3.6kg, which increases the range by 28km [17 miles] on one charge. This is significant.’

How do customers know a tyre is produced specially for electric cars?
‘This is the first time we’ve introduced an EV marking on the sidewall to say that this tyre has been designed for EVs. This will go on OE [original equipment] tyres.’

Super-skinny, 'ologic' tyres are commonplace on EVs like the BMW i3

Super-skinny tyres can mean less grip though. How can you keep the handling safe if you use a narrow tyre for aerodynamics, like on the BMW i3 (above)?
‘The contact patch is going to be smaller and we don’t want a trade-off in grip. So we have a different pattern design, a different compound, different materials in the carcass to balance the stiffness of the carcass with the stiffness of the tread pattern. We had to re-engineer everything from scratch using the latest innovations in material science. We believe we can deliver a similar performance level with standard tyres of a bigger contact patch.’

EVs are heavy. Do they wear tyres out more quickly?
‘Electric cars are heavier, yes… But the durability is the same as on a conventional tyre in our tests. Customers have the same expectation as if they were driving a normal tyre and our EV tyres pass the 40,000km test.’

Don’t all cars need greater fuel efficiency and less rolling resistance? Aren’t the needs of conventional tyres and EV tyres converging?
‘We will keep two lines in the market in the future.’

Further electric car reading

Our guide to the best EVs on sale today

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

The best long-range electric cars

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source : https://www.carmagazine.co.uk/electric/best-tyres-for-electric-cars/

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