How the size of tires and wheels affect EV range

How the size of tires and wheels affect EV range

Editor Wakesho
Tire of an EV. Photo/courtesy

All tires perform the same function such as  mitigating shocks, vehicle acceleration, steering, and braking. However, not all tires perform these functions equally, some are rated for higher speeds, others perform better in wet conditions.

Wheels and tires are the only parts of the car that touches the road, they play a major impact on the Electric car range.Manufacturers fit electric cars with low-rolling resistance tires to maximize range, this is because the tires offer less grip than conventional tires. There is a small difference on the aerodynamic and rolling resistance which can have serious effect on the EV efficiency and range as well.

The rolling resistance, simply put, is the force that impedes motion. The lower the rolling resistance, the higher the efficiency and in turn a higher electric car range. Several factors cause rolling resistance but a majority of these factors, such as road quality is, not within your control. However, one major factor that you can control is the wheel size.

Tall, skinny tires used to be the trend for green cars, but more recently low-rolling resistance tread patterns and new compounds have helped reconcile some of the conflicting priorities.

Large of small sized tires both have their advantages as well as its disadvantages. For example, less power is needed to get a smaller wheel into motion. Therefore, in areas with stop-start traffic, it is best to get a small-sized wheel. However, when in motion, the vehicle’s motor works harder to cover as much distance as a large wheel. This means larger wheels have more efficiency than smaller wheels when in motion.

In 2010 Car and Driver did a test ob the effect of changing the size of the wheel on a VW golf.They tested nearly identical Goodyear Eagle GT tires that ranged from 15 to 19 inches and one of the metrics measured was the fuel economy. What they found was that the difference in fuel economy from 15-inch wheels to 19-inch wheels was about 10%.

  • 19 inches offers 21.1 MPG
  • 18 inches offers 21.9 MPG
  • 17 inches offers 22.8 MPG
  • 16 inches offers  22.9 MPG
  • 15 inches offers  23.3 MPG

Here are 4 major steps that guide you on the type of  wheel to choose for your EV:

  1. Know what vehicle you drive: It is very important to know the model and the year of the car that you are driving.
  2. Choose what wheel you want: Choose the wheel that is best for your vehicle. Know that you do not need to size down if the 5-10% gain in range isn’t a priority for you. If you are going big, make sure that you are not going too big and risk making contact with your fenders.
  3. Narrow your result: You are likely going to find several wheel patterns and tire types that are of the diameter commonly used for your vehicle. Narrow down your option to the patterns that are most applicable to your driving environment, such as all-weather or summer tires. Some tires are also designed for high performance (i.e. Michelin Pilot Super Sports), so if you want the very best driving experience possible, take that into consideration.
  4. Select your custom package: The next step is to select a nice finishing from the seller’s option. Some sellers offer other forms of incentives such as high-speed balancing, security lugs, and locks, etc.