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Tyre selection and driving style even more crucial to plug-in vehicle efficiency

Tyre selection – allied to driving style – will play a far more crucial role in maximising performance and longevity, and minimising fleet costs, for the new generation of electric vehicles, according to Kwik Fit.

Andy Fern, fleet sales director, Kwik Fit GB

According to the firm, although the infancy of the plug-in vehicle sector means that it is too early to determine exactly how real-world tyre wear will compare to internal combustion engine models, it’s clear that tyres will become an even more important feature of a plug-in vehicle than they are in respect to petrol and diesel models.

Primarily this is because the weight of electric batteries means that these vehicles are up to 30% heavier than equivalent internal combustion engine models, putting more strain on the tyres and taking longer to stop.

And as such, Kwik Fit says it’s business-critical that fleet operators monitor how tyre life is impacted by the unique characteristics of plug-in vehicles.

To maximise electric vehicle performance, premium brand tyre manufacturers are developing dedicated tyres. First-generation electric vehicles have been invariably equipped with ‘narrow tyres’. These have the benefit of reducing rolling resistance and help to increase range between charges but on the downside, a reduced contact patch with the road increases the demand on tyres and can potentially increase wear rates.

Tyre labelling introduced in November 2012 classifies performance in respect of fuel efficiency (rolling resistance), wet grip and noise levels and tyre manufacturers are focused on ensuring the right balance between these factors.

Andy Fern, fleet sales director, Kwik Fit, said: “Tyre longevity is influenced by numerous factors – tyre selection, in-life maintenance and driver behaviour – and those characteristics have a greater dominance in respect of electric vehicles, predominantly due to their added weight.

“As always, premium brand tyres will deliver maximum longevity when compared with cheaper tyres, while rolling resistance assumes a greater importance if zero-emission range is to be maximised.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.