In electric cars, it's not just the powertrain that is different. It's the tires.
Electric cars require special tires for a variety of reasons, tire manufacturer Continental said in a press release Friday.
Their tires must handle more weight compared to internal-combustion vehicles, and deliver more torque to the road when moving away from a stop, the company noted.
Because of their near-silent powertrains, tire noise is also more noticeable in electric cars than internal-combustion vehicles, where it is partially masked by engine noise.
When designing tires for electric cars, Continental gives them increased load-bearing capacity to account for the extra weight of a battery pack. The tread pattern and tread compound are also EV-specific, to handle the nearly-instant torque of electric motors. And to quiet tire noise, a foam inlay is added inside. Continental's tires for electric cars also generally have a "tall and narrow" shape to reduce rolling resistance, which helps increase range.
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Tires themselves can have a huge effect on EV range—and so can wheels. Multiple tests have shown that swapping out stock low rolling-resistance tires and aerodynamic wheels for aftermarket items can decrease range, although it can also improve handling.
The Volkswagen ID.3 hatchback will have model-specific tires made by Bridgestone. They not only have lower rolling resistance than conventional tires, but are 20% lighter, and were designed with the ID.3's more even weight distribution in mind, according to Bridgestone.
And looking to the future, if we want a truly zero-emission vehicle, we'll need to start carefully considering the emissions from tire and brake dust.