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New Study Says Tires Impact EV Range

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Car tire wheel rubber tread pavement
Photo: The News Wheel

Colder temperatures aren’t the only thing that can impact your electric vehicle’s range. So can your car’s tires, according to a new study published in SAE International.

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Study findings

ExxonMobil, Geely Research Institute, and Shanglong Linglong Tire Co. collaborated on the Chinese study, as Green Car Reports’ Bengt Halvorson shares. One of the key findings was that tire pressure fluctuations impact the vehicle’s rolling resistance. This, in turn, can trigger a 4 percent increase in energy use. That might not seem like much energy lost, however, on an annual basis, that’s equivalent to charging your EV one more time each year.

The study also indicated that a tire’s ability to maintain air pressure is another factor that impacts EV fuel economy. Per Halvorson, researchers gave “poor” ratings to 48 percent of the tires they tested, in terms of air retention.

The study’s findings indicate that the industry needs to turn its attention to tweaking tire technology, to maximize EV range and efficiency. Researchers found that improved tire design could boost EV range by as much as 3-7 percent.

Some potential solutions

Some manufacturers are already brainstorming ways to tweak tire technology, as Halvorson points out. For instance, GM recently partnered with Michelin to design new airless tires for the Chevy Bolt EV. And engineers at Sumitomo Rubber Industries have been experimenting with tires that restore energy to the vehicle when it’s in motion.

The study also suggested that the industry turn its attention to improving tires’ inner structure. Per SAE International, the researchers found that the inflation pressure loss rate improved by 33 percent, when the inner-liner composition changed from a 70/30 BIIR/NR composition to 100 BIIR. The IPLR improved by 10 percent when the researchers used thicker tires with a 0.8-millimeter inner liner instead of a 0.7-millimeter one.

Searching for a new EV that has a superb electric range? Check out these four EVs. Then read up on how wheel size is another factor that plays a role in EV range.

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