A Tale Of Two Tires Proves That EVs Aren’t Rubber Eaters

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One thing I keep seeing in the EV FUD machine online lately is how terrible electric vehicles are on tires. Because they’re heavy and produce a lot of torque, they say, EVs go through tires much faster than ICE vehicles. The estimated lifespan of tires keeps getting shorter as the story spreads, with the most recent one I’ve come across saying they only last 15,000 miles. This last exaggeration made a potential EV buyer wonder if it was a good idea to get an EV, so clearly this sort of thing affects sales.

In this article, I want to tell a few stories about my experience with electric vehicles and tires, starting with my most recent set of tires.

A Tale of Two Tires (so far)

When my Bolt EUV had about 4,000 miles on it, I was considering getting something better for light off-roading. I love riding forest roads, but that often means that under the gravel there is sometimes a sharp stone that can rip out a normal street tire. I’m not trying to do Baja racing or anything, but the Michelin eco tires fitted to the vehicle certainly weren’t prepared to handle this, even at low speeds, with me taking it easy.

Initially, I decided to ask them if they could let me test some Tweel prototypes. After all, no air means no pop! While some journalists had the opportunity to test Tweels, the Michelin representative said the company wasn’t ready to let anyone take a set home. So instead, he offered me a set of truck tires to test: the Defender LTX M/S. I happily agreed, but still had to pay for my own fitment, balancing, road hazard warranty, as well as a wheel for a full size spare.

Although not designed for electric vehicles, LTX tires were designed to cope with the increasing torques that pickup trucks and SUVs have posted in recent years. Even though the power doesn’t pour out as quickly as an electric vehicle, a late-model turbocharged truck engine can still dish out some serious punishment to the rubber. If you stand on it, there will often be some lag as the air pressure builds, followed by a sudden burst of power once the turbo kicks in. This can be about as difficult as an electric vehicle, although the effect is delayed.

Luckily, I recently had my first tire rotation, so I now have a very timely experience to share!

Here’s the problem: the rear tires (the Bolt EUV is front-wheel drive) were spotless. Despite having driven about 12,000 miles in the last year and a half, they looked new. There was almost full tread remaining, and the little rubber whiskers in the grooves were still there! But the front tires had lost about half their tread. I freely admit to being a little ahead of myself, which is easily explained. But if weight were a real factor, you’d think those rear tires would have seen noticeable wear.

At this rate I’ll probably rotate again in about 12,000 miles when the tread is even again. Then I’ll drive another 12,000 miles or so before the tread drops. At this point I might do another rotation and wear them all down to the wear bars, for a total life of about 48,000 miles. That’s much more than 15,000, or even 30,000!

However, it is easy to steer an electric vehicle

When you get into an electric vehicle, several psychological factors work against the lifespan of your tires.

First of all, the sudden appearance of a couple can be very funny! The Bolt EUV and other cheaper EVs I’ve owned don’t have a lot of torque and horsepower compared to a Tesla, but just saying it has 266 lb-ft of torque doesn’t really give you a good idea of ​​what it really is. likes to drive. The Bolt feels a lot like an old V8 engine from 0 to 30 MPH, then much more like a 4 cylinder from 45 MPH.

But, around town, you do a lot of 0-30 MPH, so you get a lot of that sudden torque, have a lot of fun, and then pay for it at the tire store later.

Another thing that works against your tires is that you don’t feel the need to worry about breaking a complex combustion engine and transmission. Without all the moving parts, the chances of causing premature wear and killing your car by 100,000 miles decrease significantly. So, the hesitation to have fun is much less.

Finally, there are fuel costs. With an electric vehicle, you don’t get punished at the gas station for driving hard. In the city, your electric bill might go up by $5 or something, so it’s hard to notice when the power company sends you a junk envelope in the mail. So, again, the hesitation to press the skinny pedal just isn’t there like it is with a gas car.

The truth is that if everyone drove an EV the same way they drive an ICE vehicle, most EVs would not exhibit unusual tire wear compared to cars you previously owned. The heavier weight and faster onset torque would cause more wear, but not the kind of wear that most people cause themselves.

Electric vehicles have more torque available, but they only produce as much torque as the driver demands with the throttle.

The situation will also improve

Another thing that’s changing is tire technology. As the LTX tires I test show, the tire compounds are better able to withstand the extra torque that most newer ICEV or EV vehicles have. This will continue. Plus, as tire manufacturers further optimize the kind of quicker torque produced by an electric vehicle, things will get even better.

But in the long term, we will most likely see airless tires become the norm. There is simply too much demand for Tweels for the market to ignore. Because they don’t need to hold pressure and deform millions of times like normal tires do, there will be very few problems retreading these Tweels over and over again. This might even be possible using a 3D printing process that adds tread on demand or gives you a custom tread pattern to meet changing needs.

So those of us who need a little more speed might be fine in the long run.

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.

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