The benefits of owning an electric vehicle (EV) are becoming harder to deny every day. What was once a purely environmentally conscious decision for early adopters earning six figure salaries has becoming a value-play for financially-savvy families looking to save a penny.
With today’s EVs, running costs are minimal, prices are coming down, battery range is increasing, the government is offering generous tax incentives and stamp duty concessions, and EVs are FBT exempt.
However, the tyres designed specifically for your EV may be costing the earth, a recent European report has found.
If you’re considering buying an EV for environmental or financial reasons, you should be aware of what could begin happening below the wheel arches.
Epyx, a car and van fleet platform used by over 4 million European motorists, reports that the tyres on EVs are not lasting nearly as long as their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts, while commanding a premium retail price.
According to Epyx,, ‘the first tyre change for electric cars is taking place at an average of 28,776 kilometres and 551 days old, compared to 38,936 kilometres and 670 days for petrol and diesel cars.’
In other words, EV motorists are getting 10,000 fewer kilometres per set of tires, and generating 35% more waste (in the form discarded, non-recyclable rubber).
Epyx, data released in March also showed that the cost of replacing EV tyres more frequently is exacerbated by the higher price of EV tyres, with the average replacement tyre fitted to an EV (in the UK) costing 60% more than those fitted to ICE cars.
Annually, an EV could be costing over $1,000.00 more in tyres.
The findings appear to be a blow to the total cost of ownership case in favour of EVs, which has claimed that the higher acquisition prices of battery electric models can partly be offset by lower service and maintenance costs due to fewer moving parts.
However, Mobile Tyre Shop founder Travis Osborne believes the Epyx reports are not necessarily telling the full story, and Australian consumers should continue to embrace the EV revolution.
‘At least in Australia, EVs were first adopted by consumers from the more affluent suburbs. In Victoria, for instance, our figures indicate that the majority of EV tyres sold since 2013 have been in blue chip suburbs like Brighton and Kew (Melbourne’s two suburbs with the highest rate of Tesla ownership), with a median house price of $3 million $3.2 million respectively.’ Mr Osborne says.
Mr Osborne’s national fleet of mobile tyre stores has been on the road for over 11 years and serviced over 100,000 vehicles, and his company has focused upon being the leader for EV tyre consumers from the beginning.
‘With many of the world’s small and low-end EV concepts never making to Australia, our EV market skewed towards higher-end EVs at least the size of a compact family car, and the EV tyre market here has mirrored that.’
The most affordable Tesla sells for about $74,000 – four times the price of some entry-level ICE cars – and can stretch to over $300,000. Likewise a Micheline Pilot Sport EV in 255/45R20 (the size that fits the popular Tesla Model Y) costs up to $655 on some tyre retail sites. This is over $150 more than the $4495 it will cost you for a conventional Pilot Sport 4 delivered and fitted to an ICE by Mobile Tyre Shop (as of time of writing).
‘Our EV tyre customers have shown a clear preference for renowned international brands who place a higher value on their design and technological leadership, with 86% choosing the premium tyre option at checkout, vs 45% of our ICE tyre customers.’ Mr Osborne recounts.
‘Historically, Australian EV customers may have wanted to make a responsible and sustainable choice when buying a car, but they have prioritised performance, technology and convenience when ordering their EV tyres from our online store.’
The data from Mr Osborne’s company casts a different light on the Epyx report, suggesting that consumers have chosen to pay more for EV tyres, vs having no other option but to do so. But this does not explain the marked difference in mileage.
EV tyres utilise special compounds for quieter driving and lower rolling resistance, and may even have reduced tread depths, which would all impact on the frequency of their replacement. However, the extra weight of batteries and comparatively higher torque ratings of most EVs may also be to blame – with the popular family-sized Tesla X weighing in at a chunky 2,335kgs (a Toyota Camry weighs 1490kgs), but rocketing from 0-100km/h in under 3.0 seconds.
‘Greater mass and increased inertia mean longer breaking distances, so greater emphasis is placed on optimal grip.’ Mr Osborne explains. ‘An EV tyre has to be sticky, but in general, at least three load indexes higher than its comparable ICE counterpart.’
Creating an EV tyre that balances longevity, performance and value is still a goal the major tyre manufacturers need to achieve.
‘However, you can save money on your EV tyre purchase and extend their mileage, today.’ Mr Osborne believes.
‘Losing your ICE is just one part of being environmentally and financially responsible on the road. When it comes to EV tyres, you have to lose the lead foot, too.’