Electric vehicle tires vs standard tires

electric vehicle charging
Last updated 11/23/2022 - Originally published 11/23/2022
Written by SimpleTire

What are electric vehicle tires?

The thing about electric vehicles (we’ll just call them EVs from here on) is that they have a different set of requirements for their tires, compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. To really get the most out of your EV, you need a set of tires that’s engineered specifically for these cars and trucks. Their durability, load rating, and traction all are considerations when it’s time to buy EV tires, and a set of more-conventional tires for an ICE vehicle may not get the job done like you’d expect.

How long do electric vehicle tires last?

With the proper alignment, rotation, and balance, premium EV tires might last 30-40,000 miles. Why is their service life so short, though? EVs use regenerative braking systems to help keep their batteries charged. Regenerative braking means that braking force is applied through the batteries and the tires, rather than the brake rotors and pads. In that sense, it’s as much energy recovery as braking, but this technology (along with the extra weight of an EV’s battery) tends to wear tires a lot more quickly.

How do electric vehicle tires work?

First, we should make the distinction between hybrids like the Toyota Prius, “mild hybrids,” plug-in hybrids, and full EVs:

  • An ICE hybrid has a conventional engine, electric motors, and a battery. The battery is constantly recharged through regenerative braking. The battery and motors then provide extra power so that a smaller ICE engine can be used, boosting fuel economy as well. For most ICE hybrids, the engine can be shut off completely for short spells as the battery powers auxiliary loads, reducing idling time.
  • A mild hybrid operates on the same principles, although often with a less-comprehensive suite of actual hybrid technology. Mild hybrids usually can’t provide all-electric propulsion, but have some of the same stop/start features. On some mild hybrids, the electric motor is actually between the engine and transmission and is set up to provide reserve power and torque when needed. Other mild hybrids use a “static-start” system that uses sensors to determine piston position in the engine, then delivers spark and fuel to turn the engine over and start it (rather than a conventional starter motor).
  • Plug-in hybrids are like a transitional technology where the vehicle can actually run for short distances in electric-only mode. The battery can be recharged at home, and the vehicle can be driven until the battery depletes and it then switches itself back over to ICE power. Most plug-in hybrids also use regenerative braking to help keep a charge in the battery pack. The advantages of plug-in hybrids include a smaller battery array than a full EV and a drop in operating costs, thanks to its battery-only range.

The difference between electric vs standard tires

The priorities for a set of tires for an EV include:

  • Low road noise: one of the biggest selling points of EVs is their quiet cabin, since there’s no engine or exhaust noise. Most EV tires are tuned for low noise as well, with a computer-tuned tread pitch that’s engineered to keep noise to a minimum and a casing that muffles resonance from highway noise. Some tires might use a foam layer in the plies to help absorb road noise and cushion the ride a bit more.
  • Enhanced load capacity: The battery pack of the current crop of EVs adds to the vehicle’s gross weight by several hundred pounds. Tires designed for EVs need to be able to handle that extra weight without premature wear and without affecting braking and handling performance.
  • Enhanced traction: The extra weight of an EV can affect braking distance and cornering ability, so EV tires need to be engineered to deliver extra grip. In addition, some EVs have a tremendous amount of power and torque (as in 700-plus horsepower, instantaneously and with no lag time) and their tires need to be able to get that power to the road without wheelspin.
  • Low rolling resistance: To get the most range out of that EV, every aspect comes under scrutiny. Aerodynamics, efficiency of accessories and plenty of other considerations come into play, and tires that produce less friction and heat are part of the picture too. Low rolling resistance means lower energy loss, and an extended range for the EV’s battery.
  • Increased durability: As noted above, an EV comes with extra weight and often a lot of torque and power. That means that EV tires have to be able to handle those stresses for their entire service life. Most tire makers design their EV tire compounds with silica, polymers, resins and even naturally-occurring ingredients like ground pecan shells to boost durability and service life as well as performance.

The pros and cons of electric and standard tires

So what are some of the pluses and minuses (insert your own joke about electric-motor polarity here) to electric tires and standard ICE-vehicle tires?


  • Quieter
  • Lower rolling resistance
  • Better traction
  • More durable


  • Shorter treadwear
  • Sometimes more expensive on the front end


  • Proven designs
  • Predictable handling, traction, road manners and ride quality
  • Longer treadwear warranties


  • Not designed for EVs
  • Possibly shorter treadwear when used for EVs
  • Using ICE-vehicle tires on an EV is not recommended by manufacturers and could void a warranty

Price breakdown of electric vehicle tires vs standard tires

Truthfully, EV tires tend to be more expensive at purchase time, but not always a lot more expensive than premium tires for any ICE vehicle.

For instance, a Pirelli PZero (PZ4 - Sport) starts at $289, and a Continental ContiProContact at $198. Compare that to tires for a 2021 Ford Escape: the Continental ProContact TX at $151 and Yokohama Geolandar G91AV at $256.

Granted, these tires have different designs and there are dozens of other variables that can be figured into the selling price of tires for EVs and ICE vehicles both. Just be mindful, though, that for a light truck EV like a Rivian or a high-performance vehicle like a Model 3, you want the best tires you can get to really get the most potential from your ride.

Are electric vehicle tires worth it?

Well, that’s a tough question.

Considering that EV tires tend to have a shorter tread life and a higher front-end price, that may not seem like a great tradeoff. But then again, you figure that the cost is somewhat defrayed by longer range – another 40 or 50 miles, thanks to lower rolling resistance. You can also enjoy a quieter ride and truly great performance, thanks to your tires’ enhanced traction and handling. The one thing that’s a given, though, is that conventional ICE vehicle tires aren’t a good fit for most EVs for all the reasons given above. You can just figure on EV tires as something that goes with the territory if you really want your EV to live up to its promise.

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