Making the link between the car and the road, tires are of paramount importance in electric cars. We give you our advice to make the right choice.
Not just round and black, as Michelin likes to remind you, a tire is of paramount importance on a car. It is a guarantee of safety and comfort on board, but also of performance and efficiency. While it is true that these shutters are important for all cars, and whatever their energy, they have a much more essential character on electric cars: with the instantaneous torque of their mechanics and the greater weight due to batteries, they exert strong stresses on the tires. Also, the rolling resistance of the latter has a real impact in terms of electrical consumption, always important in the eyes of manufacturers, who have made autonomy their hobbyhorse, but also in the eyes of drivers who, even convinced by the electric mobility, keep an eye on the energy gauge.
All these aspects led to adopting a particularly complex compromise, each parameter causing an unfortunate flip side. With less rolling resistance, a tire promotes consumption and the longevity of the compound, but reduces braking distances and degrades its handling. They also often surrender as soon as the torque starts, unless you add more tread. Which then leads to wider, more expensive, more energy-consuming and much less silent tires.
- Specific tires: efficient, but rare and expensive
- “Eco” tires: the best choice for an electric
- Normal tires: autonomy that often takes a back seat
- Choose Premium tires, but adapt the plumage to the ramage
- European labeling serves as a guide, but sometimes lacks precision
- Keep the right pressure for peak performance
Specific tires: efficient, but rare and expensive
Thus, manufacturers have developed a whole new generation of tires intended for clean cars. Ideal tires because they have low rolling resistance and the best possible balance between rolling noise, wear over time and energy consumption, which can represent 30% of total consumption. However, the offer is still thin and the specific technology sometimes comes at a high price.
Michelin Energy E-V
Offered with the arrival of the Renault Zoé, the Energy E-V disappeared from the catalog in favor of the less specific Michelin Energy Saver. In question: its ultimate search for the best compromise in the balance of performance did not allow it to shine in terms of handling. Also, its high selling price and its tendency to wear out quickly did not allow it to have a successful career.
Bridgestone Ecopia EP500
Designed for the BMW i3, this tire is the only one that can adapt to the exotic format of the wheels of the Munich electric city car. Just as efficient as a Continental EcoContact 6, it is quieter and has been optimized for electric mobility. But its exclusivity at a price: it will take on average an extension of 30 € more compared to its German competitor.
With a wide range of eco tires, the German firm has developed the Conti.eContact, specially designed for electric cars. Aside from its own recipe for gum, this tire adopts sidewalls inspired by a golf ball to improve aerodynamics and thus grab a few more kilometers of range. Available initially with only three sizes in 13 and 16 inches, its range has just expanded with new sizes up to 22 inches.
“Eco” tires: the best choice for an electric
Manufacturers have launched many references called “eco” tires or “green” tires. Less suctioned to the ground than conventional summer, winter or all-season tires, they are more lenient with energy consumption. This is undoubtedly the choice of the reason for equipping electric cars: if they do not really drive out kWh to improve range, the balance of their performance offers them better consistency.
Goodyear EfficientGrip Performance
Despite its evocative name, this tire was not born to do a series of laps on a circuit. Rated B in fuel economy and with 68 dB, this is one of the tires that best fits electric cars, outperforming specific tires. Especially in the sound chapter with one of the lowest values on the market.
With its compound called Green Chili 2.0, the EcoContact 6 has a much better durability than its predecessor and a 15% lower rolling resistance. It also scores top marks for fuel economy and wet grip.
Michelin EnergySaver +
The EnergySaver + is the most popular in its category. Replacing the old EnergySaver and replacing the Energy E-V in the electrical field, it has a noise level of 70dB, a level similar to dedicated tires. It is also much more secure on dry or wet ground, without however equaling its competitors.
Normal tires: autonomy that often takes a back seat
After starting out with specific tires or “eco” tires, some manufacturers have chosen completely conventional tires for their electrics. An astonishing choice at a time when autonomy matters in the commercial chapter. But these compounds make it possible to cope better with increasingly powerful electrical mechanisms and to highlight the qualities of increasingly better studied chassis.
Continental PremiumContact 6
The product of the German brand is the one that stands out the best in this segment. While it is the loudest with 72 dB recorded, it is the one with the best grip in wet conditions, where the electrics tend to lose their means in the face of instant torque.
Michelin Primacy 4
Always popular, the tire from the Clermont-Ferrand manufacturer is good everywhere and is familiar to its competitor from Continental, although hardly less homogeneous. But its tread is quieter and offers better longevity.
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymetric 5
New to the market, the American tire recently made its mark during the annual Touring Club Suisse comparison. In third position behind the PremiumContact 6 and the Pilot Sport 4, it was the best on dry roads. It has also proven itself to be one of the quietest and one of the most energy efficient.
Choose Premium tires, but adapt the plumage to the ramage
Divided into three thirds (Premium, Quality and Budget), the brands offer ranges that cater to all motorist profiles, with prices and performance changing very quickly. We have chosen to detail a few Premium references which, admittedly more expensive, have the essential qualities for electric cars in terms of grip and fuel economy.
Of course, the choice should be in line with the type of vehicle. There is therefore no need to fit Michelin Pilot Sport 4 tires on a city car, as we have noticed on the Peugeot e-208 or the Honda e: particularly pleasant to drive, this rubber is of no interest on cars dedicated to an evolution in town. Especially since the latter can drop the battery life by around 20% on average. In the case of a more powerful electric car, however, Michelin’s sports tire seems more suitable.
If local weather conditions are favorable, you can also consider all-season tires, which are relatively consistent throughout the year. Of course, they will be less effective than summer tires on dry ground, or winter tires on snow. But their versatility comes at a price, and they will often be more power hungry and noisier. Hankook is one of the most invested in the segment: the Korean brand has chosen an all-season profile for its AS EV tire, which is entirely dedicated to electric cars. Announced in 2018 for marketing in 2019, this tire is still pending on the market. In the meantime, its brother Kinergy 4S H750 is one of our choices for its consistent performance on these last two criteria.
European labeling serves as a guide, but sometimes lacks precision
Introduced in November 2012 by the European Union, tire labeling guides consumers to make the right choice. Subject to controversy because of its only three criteria analyzed (fuel economy, wet grip and noise generated), the label can be useful, but do not dwell on the criterion of fuel savings: this chapter has a informative value for combustion vehicles, where the economy amounts to 0.63 l / 100 km (or 6.3 l / 1000 km) between the note A and G. The differences are more complex with electric cars but we can expect a theoretical maximum deviation of 5.92 kWh / 100 km (on a calorific value basis that one liter of gasoline equals 9.4 kWh).
For example, the Hyundai Kona Electric was previously equipped with Nexen N’Fera SU1 tires in the size 215/55 R17 94V. A ride that presented C (fuel economy), B (wet grip) and 71 dB ratings. By adopting Michelin Primacy 4 tires (A, B and 69 dB respectively) with the same dimensions, the crossover has gained 35 km of range (from 449 km to 484 km), i.e. a reduction in consumption of around 1, 03 kWh / 100 km on a WLTP cycle.
Keep the right pressure for peak performance
As with internal combustion vehicles, there is no single truth about tire choice. Only the use of your car, the annual mileage driven, the type of roads taken and your budget will allow you to make a choice. But the electric car has many specificities that condition the purchase of tires. We do not recommend the use of specific tires, rare and more expensive than average, which will present complications for the replacement of a flat tire for example.
Finally, and whatever the type of tires, assiduous control of the tire pressure (cold control) is necessary: due to the different stresses exerted on the rubber, the pressure has a greater importance on an electric car than in the case of a thermal car. Also, remember that if your electric car has two motors, you should change all four tires at the same time, as with all four-wheel drive cars.
And you, which tires have you chosen for your electric car?