Several tire manufacturers, from Hankook to Goodyear and Michelin, have released EV-specific tires lately, which has many potential buyers wondering if EVs need special tires. And with the colder winter months coming up, a bigger question is, “does my EV need snow tires?”
In general, the answer is yes, you’ll want EV-specific tires for your vehicle, but whether or not you’ll need snow EV tires is a different question entirely. Ultimately, it’ll depend on your location, road conditions, driving style, and the make of your electric vehicle. Here’s what you need to know.
At first glance, the tires on an electric vehicle may look the same as a regular gas-powered vehicle, but they are different. The tires on an EV need to handle the additional weight, and extra torque, plus have a lower rolling resistance to help improve mileage. Often, EV tires have less tread to prevent road noise and increase range.
When getting tires for an EV, you’ll want to pay close attention to the load ratings. The load range indicates the heaviest load a specific tire can handle. The most common options in the U.S are load ranges C, D, and E for consumer vehicles.
If you drive an electric vehicle, you’ll want to look for load range HL, which stands for “high-load” capacity, which handles the added weight of some EV models. Again, this will depend on your specific vehicle.
Now that you know EVs likely require different tires, you’ll also want to consider going from a regular or all-season tire to something specifically built to handle harsh winter conditions.
As we said earlier, it’s hard to answer the question of if you need snow tires for your EV, as that depends on the type of road conditions you’ll face. Many EV drivers prefer all-season tires, which should theoretically perform well in any season, preventing them from buying a second set of tires. That said, popular EV tire maker Nokian still suggests winter tires for an improved grip on icy, slushy, and wet road surfaces.
Most summer tires, even some all-season tires, aren’t designed for cold weather, especially considering the compound and tread pattern. As a result, some regions around the world even require snow tires. So again, this will depend on your location.
You’ll greatly benefit from getting a snow tire if you live somewhere with heavy snowfall and harsh winters. They have better traction, and that’s important for safety reasons. On the flip side, if your region experiences little to no snowfall, you’ll likely be good with all-season tires.
Regardless of where you live, if your EV comes with performance tires, you should look into at least one of the options above for an improved experience this fall and winter.
Additionally, we know that Tesla offers several different winter and snow tire packages on its website, suggesting that upgrading your shoes come wintertime is a good idea. Then, Tesla has an entire webpage dedicated to EV winter driving tips.
If you’re considering a snow or winter tire for your electric vehicle, there are certain features you’ll want to keep in mind. Obviously, you’ll want a tire with good traction, but you’ll also want to ensure that traction doesn’t come at the expense of rolling resistance, which could lower range performance.
According to Michelin manager Farell Scott, EV customers want a tire with traction, low noise, rolling resistance, and good wear patterns. Or a good combination of all four that match your needs, budget, and driving conditions. Everything has a trade-off. The more traction a tire has, the louder it could be on the road considering there isn’t a loud gas-powered engine making noise. Again, this all comes down to personal preference.
Buyers should also look for EV snow tires with good sculpture. So, what is sculpture? It’s a term used to explain the tire’s shape, including the tread blocks and patterns. A good winter tire will have more tread blocks, including tons of little cutouts called “sipes.” These sipes give the tire additional surface tension and grip, helping your tire bite the ground and get good traction.
Essentially, you’ll want to find a tire that matches your electric vehicle’s wheel size and load, an EV-specific tire, then choose an EV snow tire that can handle the harsh winter and snowfall. And while you’ll want an excellent quiet tire that looks good and has a low rolling resistance rating for improved driving ranges, traction and grip is more important in winter. Safety first.
This is why all-season tires may work great for some people, but those in snowy regions should strongly consider snow tires. If you need snow tires on your gas-powered vehicle, you would definitely want them on an electric car. Here are several winter EV tires from Tesla, Nokian Tires, or the Michelin X-Ice Snow for you to choose from.
At the end of the day, it all depends on your driving style and road conditions.