Electric vehicles are becoming more and more commonplace on British roads and it’s something that is only moving in one direction for the foreseeable future.
The UK Government has committed to banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, meaning you’ll only be able to drive a fresh EV off the forecourt when you want a fresh set of wheels.
There is set to be over a million EVs on the roads by 2024 if current trends continue.
We’re all familiar with EVs costing more than their petrol equivalents as the technology that powers them is emerging, but that also extends to EV tyres, making it well worth your while to look into tyre insurance when buying a new electric car.
Here we’ll delve deeper into why EV tyres are more expensive and question whether their manufacture undoes some of the environmental benefits that people talk up when making the switch to a fully electric car.
Why EV tyres are more expensive than standard ones
This is actually a pretty simple question to answer. As EVs are heavier, the tyres that carry them on the road need to be more robust and heavier themselves. This extra development and use of materials make manufacturing costs higher, which are passed on to customers.
Those special requirements are also a reason why you should never fit non-specialised tyres to your EV. Any short-term savings will be wiped out long-term.
Batteries are the biggest contributor to EVs’ extra weight, so it remains to be seen if tyre costs will fall as battery technology continues to develop.
EV tyre technology
EV tyres have to perform three specific tasks in comparison to standard tyres: handle extra weight, perform more quietly and combat additional wear.
- How they handle weight: The extra weight of EVs leads to an increase in rolling resistance, essentially the friction between the rubber and the road that eventually causes the wheels to stop turning. Specific rubber compounds and tread patterns help to overcome this, meaning you get more miles from each charge.
- How they control noise: In a traditional car, the engine noise drowns out the sound of the road at lower speeds but a near-silent EV powertrain means you’ll get a lot more cockpit noise from your tyres. Foam compounds within the tyre walls combat both sound and some bumps in the road, resulting in the silent and smooth ride that we already associate with EVs.
- How they last longer: Again, logic would indicate that a heavier car burns through its tyres quicker. However, the premium category that EVs fall into plays a role here. As standard EVs are fitted with tyres that are made of some of the most advanced materials available, resulting in lower degradation.
EV tyres’ environmental impact
So, we’ve heard plenty of good about EV tyres, but are they made in a way that chimes with the green standards that the cars are trumpeted with overall?
As tyres wear down, they release toxic particles into the air. Indeed, a study by Emissions Analytics estimates that these particles are 1,000 times worse than those that leave the exhaust of petrol and diesel cars.
Doing anything about this is tricky and will likely require further experimentation from tyre companies, however pushing factories to further limits also results in greater emissions.
It’s a quandary that the tyre industry will have to tackle in the coming years.