28 March 2024

There is a Cost to Long Range EVs

When one purchases an extremely long range, as in more than about 400 km range EV, they carry a lot of batteries, and those batteries are very heavy, and as a result, these cars have severely limited tire life.

I would have thought that this was a no-brainer, but people are surprised by this:

In case you missed it, there's been a lot of discourse surrounding electric vehicles and tires lately. Not only do EVs wear through their rubber and roads quicker because of their relatively extreme heft, but the instant power they put down also accelerates the process. Owners are shocked to learn this firsthand because, as J.D. Power reports, their daily drivers chew through tires like they're going out of style. And not only that, but many were supposedly never told this would happen.

That bit about instant power is kind of silly.  Everyone knows that each time you do a burnout, you are reducing tire life something on the order of 1500 km.

On the other hand, the fact that something like a Cybertruck weighs about 3½ tons results in much shorter tire life is less obvious to the non-engineering types out there:


Now, big-name OEMs like Michelin and Goodyear sell rubber specifically for battery-powered cars. Marketing is one reason, of course, but so are the legitimately different requirements of EV tires. They must strike a different balance of strength, weight, and resiliency without hampering vehicle range or causing excessive noise. That's a tall task when you're dealing with 6,000-pound sedans and "midsize" trucks that weigh as much as a dually pickup.

Automotive dealer software company CDK Global published a lengthy study about EV service in late 2023. In it, one respondent said that “when it comes to EVs, tires are the new oil change." We published a story last August about Rivian R1Ts needing new rubber after as few as 6,000 miles. Not all EV owners deal with such egregious wear, but considering most service shops recommend oil changes every 5,000 miles on gasoline-powered cars, the comparison checks out in that case.

One solution for this is to get a less expensive car with shorter range.  Shorter range means less batteries, which means less battery weight, which means less tire wear.

If if you are charging from a 120VAC plug at your home, if you are commuting 50 miles a day each way, you should not suffer from range anxiety from a 200 mile range EV.

Or you could buy a plug in hybrid, which typically have a range on the order of 40-50 miles, but can continue after that using an internal combustion engine that gets around 50 MPG.


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