Electric vehicles have had a tough stretch of late.
It’s been one worry after the other. Range of driving tapers off in cold weather, and batteries take longer to juice up when it’s cold.
Now reports are surfacing that tires on EVs wear out at a superfast clip. Some tire dealers across the country are reporting 7,000 to 10,000 miles is all they get.
This isn’t a good track record given that most tires on gas-powered vehicles last 50,000 to 75,000 or more.
Because tire life isn’t something a lot of EV buyers specifically ask about, they learn the hard way they’ll have more frequent tire changes, said Anthony Rushing, manager at Big O Tires on College Avenue in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“I’ve had people come in with their EVs needing tires upset because they wore out so fast,” he told Cowboy State Daily.
In Wyoming, the tire issue hasn’t emerged as a big deal since there’s only about 800 registered tags for EVs in the state, according to data provided by the federal Alternative Fuels Data Center.
That’s a drop in the bucket to No. 1 giant EV booster California with nearly 1 million registrations, and Florida at No. 2 with 170,000.
Because, It’s Wyoming
Because of Wyoming’s wide-open spaces and miles upon miles of open asphalt between towns, tire life is a major consideration for Cowboy State auto buyers.
The EV market in Wyoming may eventually get off the ground if a $24 million effort to build a statewide EV charging network ever gets built. But even if it does, Wyoming EV owners won’t be satisfied with getting 10,000 miles out of a $1,600 set of tires.
As things stand, however, the market is somewhat stalled in Wyoming so national reports of the short life of EV tires so far has barely registered on the radar.
Rental car giant Hertz isn’t helping to jumpstart the market either, given that it recently announced plans to dump a third of its EV fleet globally because of high repair costs.
Not Really A Secret
Nonetheless, even with all of these woes for EV owners, the tire issues aren’t foreign to tire dealers.
“Yes, we have seen quite a bit of wear on EV cars versus those on gas-powered cars,” said Alex Gayvoronski, assistant manager of the Les Schwab Tire Center on 2nd Street in Laramie. “We’ve started stocking tires specifically designed for EVs.”
He attributed the worn tire problem to the weight of EVs plus the torque load stress on the tires.
As evidence of the overweight problem, Gayvoronski said that his tire store’s hydraulic lift struggles to lift a Tesla, which is heavier than a gas car.
“After you lift 20 to 30 cars all day long, you can tell by the sound of the lift,” he observed.
“I just installed a set of tires on a Tesla 3 this morning,” said Gayvoronski, who noted that executives at the corporate Les Schwab level and tire manufacturers have recommended certain tires for EVs to give them longevity – 40,000 to 50,000 miles.
The unhappy Tesla customer Gayvoronski highlighted paid $1,267.67 for a set of four Hankook 235/45R10 Ion Evo tires, balanced, with new stem values, disposal of the old tires and a warranty.
Rushing said tire shops like his also have to take extra precautions when changing out EV tires, like using special pads to lift them to avoid damaging the cars.
“It’s those heavy batteries,” he said. “It just makes the tires wear out quicker.”
EVs can get tires that last considerably longer than what’s typical, but they cost a lot more as well, Rushing said.
Lackluster EV Market
The Les Schwab store is situated in one of the big EV hotspots of the state – behind Teton and Laramie counties in terms of EV registrations. This is why Gayvoronski admitted that he doesn’t see many tire jobs on EVs.
He estimated about three in the past year.
The concentration of EV registrations in Wyoming are in Albany, Laramie, Natrona and Teton counties, according to figures as of May 2023 that the Wyoming Department of Transportation provided.
Those four counties total 63% of the EVs in the Cowboy State and where you’ll most likely see an EV driving around.
At No. 1 in the ranking are the 217 EV registrations in Teton County, followed by Laramie County with 165, 60 in Albany County, and 54 in Natrona County.
Automotive journalist Vince Bodiford, publisher of Cheyenne-based TheWeekendDrive.com, said that the worn — or bald — tire issue with EVs could be caused by several factors.
He pointed to an EV’s large battery system that weighs hundreds of pounds that puts more stress on the tires, as well as the car’s electrical motors that can produce peak power, or torque, almost instantaneously.
“It doesn’t surprise me that weight and torque stress wears tires out faster on EVs,” said Bodiford, who cited other possible factors as hot or cold climates and start-and-stop characteristics of traffic-congested city driving.
“Really, there are only two places where climate could have an extreme impact on a tire,” he said. “That would be in a cold, snowy region of the Rocky Mountain states, like Wyoming, or desert places like super-hot Barstow or Needles in California.”
He also speculated that “regenerative breaking,” where tires work really hard to stop due to torque stress instead of friction braking in gas-powered cars, as another possible wearing effect on tires.
A visual is a “twisting effect” of what happens with a dragster’s tires when a driver peels out, he said. Those tires have a shelf-life of roughly a mile-and-a-half when the soft, burning rubber vulcanizes and cracks.
Pat Maio can be reached at email@example.com.