Since storming into the marketplace a few years ago, electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids have started to dominate the new car landscape. From the all electric high performance offerings from Tesla and Lucid Motors, to the PHEVs and mild hybrids offered by pretty much every major manufacturer, one thing is clear: EVs and hybrids are here to stay. That doesn’t mean that the internal combustion engine (ICE) will disappear within the next few years, but we can expect that manufacturers will continue to invest more in EV and hybrid powertrains than traditional ICEs. Except for GM, who are currently working on a brand new small-block V8.
With the emergence of EVs, there are different aspects of car ownership to consider compared with traditional ICE powered vehicles. One of the most important is tires. While it might sound surprising at first, shopping for and purchasing tires for EVs is not the same as it is for gassers. Things like rolling resistance, tire noise, and increased curb weight, are all factors that go into buying EV wheels and tires.
This article will cover everything you need to know about buying the best EV tires for your vehicle. We look at everything from price, to performance, longevity, aesthetic appeal, customer satisfaction, and more. Let’s get started.
What are EVs and Hybrids?
Before we get into tires for EVs and hybrids, we should first start by explaining the difference between them. Previously, we looked at the best EVs for 2022, as well as the top hybrid SUVs for 2023, so make sure to check those out if you’re in the market for a new car. Obviously, EVs and hybrids are different from each other, but what are all of the different types?
EVs are pretty much exactly what they sound like: purely electric vehicles that have no internal combustion engine. They rely solely on electric power and do not take any gasoline, diesel, or hydrogen fuel. Instead, they have a battery pack that is charged through an electric outlet, either at home or a public charger. The battery powers individual motors, usually two or three, that drive the wheels.
EVs are known for being able to instantly produce exceptional amounts of horsepower and torque. Instead of an ICE that needs to build up power through a powerband, EVs are capable of jaw-dropping torque from the second the throttle is pushed down. However, the more performance that is used the quicker the battery depletes, necessitating more charging more often. Pure EVs are also incredibly expensive, with many of the top options easily exceeding more than $100,000.
Hybrids, on the other hand, combine ICEs and EVs together. There are two main types of hybrids: Mild and Plug-ins (PHEVs). Mild hybrids are powered by both a battery pack and ICE, with the ICE powering the wheels and the battery handling electronics. Usually, the ICE shuts off when the car is stopped, allowing the battery to work, and turns on again to power the wheels for take-off. In mild hybrids, the battery is charged through driving on the ICE, and in some cases can add supplemental power to the ICE.
The other type of hybrid is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, also known as a PHEV. PHEVs can use either an ICE or an electric motor to power the wheels, and can change between the two. On PHEVs, the supplemental battery is big enough to power the wheels and drive the car for short ranges, usually 30-50 miles. PHEVs, as you probably guessed, charge through an external power source instead of by driving the ICE.
Hybrids are less expensive than EVs while still providing superior fuel economy and reduced emissions compared with pure ICE powered vehicles. Pretty much every manufacturer now offers either a mild or PHEV option in their lineup, and they are constantly coming out with new models yearly.
What makes EV and Hybrid tires different?
As strange as it might sound, there are different aspects to consider when purchasing EV or hybrid tires compared to those used by traditional ICE powered vehicles. While the terrain and surfaces are largely the same, tires will perform differently in an EV than in a normal car.
The instant torque kick and increased weight of EVs put more strain on your tires than before. In addition, the lack of engine noise necessitates something quiet that won’t constantly harass your ears while driving. Finally, on EVs and hybrids, having tires with low rolling resistance is absolutely paramount to getting the best mileage and performance.
EV and hybrid tires are essentially the same as those for ICE cars, but generally have tire compounds that are suited for heavier and more powerful vehicles. Most EV and hybrid tires can be used on traditional ICE vehicles, if you really want, but they are largely designed specifically for EVs and hybrids.
Things to consider when purchasing EV and Hybrid tires
On average, EVs make a lot more horsepower and torque than standard ICE powered cars. All of that extra force means your tires will wear out faster than normal. Especially if you plan on using all of the 1,000 horsepower and torque that some EVs make, you’ll find that traditional tires will wear out much too quickly for them to be viable. They also won’t handle nearly as well, because your EV was likely designed with specific EV tires in mind.
Weight is the next issue. Typically, EVs and hybrids will weigh more than their ICE counterparts. Some hybrids have dual powertrains, adding even more weight. Much of this also comes from the massive battery. It also doesn’t help that some EVs have as many as three electric motors.
As a result, you’ll need tires rated either HL for High Load or XL for Extra Load. The compounds on these tires are specifically meant to deal with heavier vehicles, like EVs and hybrids. In addition to having tires with the proper load index, you’ll also want something grippy enough to help your car stop with all of that extra weight. HL and XL tires are designed to help you stop quicker even when carrying more weight.
Tire Noise and Rolling Resistance
Next up is noise. With ICE powered vehicles, tire noise, while still a problem, is much less noticeable. With the noise of the engine and exhaust, most people can’t hear their tires at all in ICE cars. However, EVs don’t produce nearly the same amount of volume, meaning you’ll hear your tires much more prominently. As a result, you’re going to want tires that don’t make a ton of noise. Nothing is worse than trying to enjoy a nice drive with the windows down, only to hear constant squealing and screeching from the road. Some tires are so loud you can even hear them through the cabin on EVs.
Finally, the last consideration you will want to make for EV and hybrid tires are rolling resistance. The less rolling resistance your tires offer the more range your car will ultimately be capable of. This is also true of tire size, as the bigger the tire the lower the overall range.
Top 4 Best EV Tires
Now let’s get to the top EV and Hybrid tires on the market. While this list will mainly focus on EVs, it will also apply to Hybrids too. With consideration for price, performance, longevity, aesthetic appeal, customer satisfaction, and more, here are the top 4 EV tires:
- Michelin Energy Saver A/S
- Continental PureContact LS
- Pirelli Cinturato P7
- Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32
1) Michelin Energy Saver A/S Tire for EV and Hybrid
First on our list are the Michelin Energy Saver A/S tires. These tires are specifically designed to be as fuel efficient as possible for SUVs and passenger cars. They offer low rolling resistance, which is optimal for EVs and hybrids. Michelin is one of the top names in the tire industry, and they have been in business for a very long time.
Review wise, the Michelin Energy Saver A/S gets good marks for performance, handling, and noise. However, many customers have complained that even though it is an All Season tire, it can struggle to handle well in wet, snowy, and icy conditions. If you live somewhere that sees a lot of rain you’ll probably be fine, but for places with snow and ice you might need something else to get you safely around in the winter.
Overall, the Michelin Energy Saver A/S is a solid tire that will combine low rolling resistance with low road noise, while offering decent performance in dry and moderately wet conditions. It is designed for fuel efficiency and fuel economy, making it a great choice for EVs and Hybrids that don’t see too much adverse weather.
2) Continental PureContact LS tire for EV and Hybrid
Next on our list is the Continental PureContact LS tire for EV and Hybrids. The PureContact LS is one of the best EV tires for pretty much any vehicle. They are designed for everything from sedans and coupes, to minivans and smaller crossovers. They provide excellent performance for handling and are reportedly very comfortable and quiet to drive on, too.
Compared with the above Michelin Energy Saver, the Continental PureContact does much better in inclement weather situations. It gets very good reviews for handling in wet and snow conditions, even though it is only an all season tire rather than winter. Part of this has to do with the temperature activated tread compound which performs very well when temperatures drop.
The PureContact LS is truly one of the best EV and hybrid tires on the market. It comes performance with handling, and offers low road noise and excellent wet weather handling. Continental has been known for many years for offering above average performance tires, and the PureContact LS is no different.
3) Pirelli Cinturato P7 tire for EV and Hybrid
Third on our list are the Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires. Pirelli offers two kinds of Cinturato P7s, ultra high performance Summer tires, and Grand Touring All Season tires. Pirelli, like Michelin and Continental, are one of the best known companies in the tire industry. They are generally regarded for their performance tires, which are usually exceptional.
The Cinturato P7 Summer and All Season tires both get excellent marks for performance and handling. While the Summers will undoubtedly outperform the All Seasons, the All Seasons still perform very well. They offer relatively low noise while still staying sticky and grippy. However, in wet weather, the P7s unfortunately perform closer to the Michelins than the Continentals. Though sold as an All Season, many complain of traction and handling issues in wet and snowy conditions.
The Pirelli Cinturato P7 is a solid choice for someone looking for a cheaper version of the Continental PureContact LS tires. They definitely don’t offer the wet handling that PureContacts will, but they do perform very well in dry conditions. Like the Michelins, the Pirellis are great for those who live in mainly dry climates or those with moderate rain. They will offer better performance and handling, but probably won’t be a match in the fuel economy department.
4) Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32 tire for EV and Hybrid
Our final recommendation for the best EV and hybrid tires are the Bridgestone Blizzak LM-32s. We wanted to offer at least one winter tire on our list for those who live in snowy states, and as anyone will tell you, Blizzaks are the standard for snow/winter tires without going studded. They perform absolutely incredibly in subzero and snowy or icy conditions. A FWD car with Blizzaks will generally outperform an AWD car with All Season tires in the snow and on ice.
Unfortunately, there is a bit of tradeoff when you put the Blizzaks on. One is increased road noise. Due to the incredible stickiness and grippiness from the Blizzaks, you will generally hear them much more on dry pavement. In addition, once temperatures warm up, Blizzaks will start to handle and grip worse. They will see vastly increased tire wear in warm conditions. However, for the Winter and early Spring months, few things will outperform Blizzaks for inclement weather.
The other downside with Blizzaks is going to be the price. They are more expensive than your average Summer or All Season tires, and are even pricier than many other snow tires. However, you are definitely getting what you pay for, as the Blizzaks are the top of the line.
Which are the best EV Tires Conclusion
The best EV tire for your vehicle will depend on many things, including your driving style, driving frequency, weather conditions, and the vehicle itself. If you’re driving a sedan or coupe, you’ll probably want to go with something more performance oriented. However, if you have an SUV or crossover, you might be more interested in traction and fuel economy over pristine handling.
We gave four recommendations for the best EV and hybrid tires, with each of them offering different benefits. The Michelin Energy Savers will be relatively cost effective while still providing excellent fuel economy and good dry performance. The Pirelli Cinturato P7s will offer outstanding handling and performance, but will also lack winter appeal. Continental’s PureContact LS tires are the best of both worlds. They provide excellent dry and wet handling, and are also relatively fuel efficient – though also pricey. Finally, if you are looking for the best winter tire, the Blizzak LM-32s are the top of the line.
Let us know what tires you’re considering for your EV or hybrid in the comments below!