Are your EV’s tyres wasting precious power? We visited the experts at Continental to explore the relationship between rubber and range.
Range anxiety. It’s the infamous EV buzz-phrase on the lips of a general public who are gradually, apprehensively, beginning to embrace electric mobility on a larger scale. And, while its impact may be exaggerated, it isn’t a totally mythical phenomenon. Anyone who’s witnessed an EV’s range readout plummet at an alarming rate will attest to this.
Therefore, while electric car uptake is increasing – with Tesla Model Y making it on to the podium as the UK’s third best-selling car in 2022 – range endures as one of the greatest apprehensions and barriers to ownership.
How can we help to alleviate this? Improving battery technology is crucial, obviously, but many of us are overlooking the vital role tyres play in boosting EV efficiency.
So, whether you already have an aging electric car and want to restore some lost range, or you’d like to maximise your new EV’s potential from plug to plug, keep reading to discover how Continental tyres can take you further.
Rubber’s role in range: putting claims to the test
For the second installment in our Continental Tyre Series, you join us once again at the Jeversen test facility near Hannover, Germany. This time, efficiency is the name of the game, as we pit two different models against each other to find out how many miles you could gain from a simple tyre swap.
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For our test car Cupra's smallest EV hatch, the Born, was chosen to wear two different types of Continental tyres. The highly versatile PremiumContact 7 was selected to benchmark, as although it is a fantastic all-rounder, efficiency is not its primary focus. While the EcoContact 6 was the range enhancing choice: prioritising reduced consumption with help from its advanced ‘Green Chili™ 2.0 compound’.
While not an entirely scientific experiment (no test involving human error ever can be) Continental challenged us to see how many kilometers of range we could eke out of the Cupra on both sets of tyres around an oval track at a constant speed. What we found may surprise you.
After using the most delicate and energy efficient driving style we could muster for both tyre models, Continental’s highly accurate energy consumption computer delivered the final verdict. Even accounting for our human error, the EcoContact 6 improved efficiency by a significant 2.3% over the course of our short test. A useful saving indeed, which would have likely been even greater had we compared the EcoContact 6 with a sportier compound such as the SportContact 7.
Making these findings more impressive is the fact that with EcoContact 6, you don’t need to compromise on performance to improve range. Continental explains that the EcoContact 6 retains all the traits an EV driver needs in a tyre: superb high speed-stability, short braking distances, and great wet weather performance to name but a few.
With manufacturers including VW forced to halt or scale back EV production due to 'strong customer reluctance', hopefully Continental’s tyre efficiency breakthroughs will help to quash EV-sceptic’s range fears. But in the meantime, is your electric car wearing the most energy efficient rubber? If not, you could be leaving useful range on the table.