Changing tires on Chevy Bolt EV electric car: your range, grip, and noise
Jan 25, 2018 John Voelcker
Riken Raptor tires fitted to 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV electric car by owner
Jeff Jablansky, Jan 2018
One of the many tactics used by carmakers to boost efficiency in their
vehicles is fitting low-rolling-resistance tires.
Specially designed to reduce the energy wasted as heat from the friction
between the tire and the road, these tires can boost efficiency by a few
percentage points in an electric car.
The increase often isn't as noticeable in gasoline cars, which are far less
energy-efficient because they waste two-thirds to three-quarters of the
energy in gasoline anyway—so the improvement is lower.
Tires with low rolling resistance are generally harder and less grippy than
softer, stickier blends that hold the road better.
That's what led occasional Green Car Reports writer Jeff Jablansky to change
He swapped out his Bolt EV's original Michelin Energy Saver A/S Selfseal
Green X tires for a set of grippier RIken Raptors.
He described the swap in a post to the (closed) Bolt EV Owners Group on
Facebook, and posted the photo shown here.
The new tires, Jablansky wrote, "change the entire dynamic of the Bolt—for
the better. No more squealing through turns or wheel spin at traffic lights.
There’s a slight reduction in range, and I’m curious how it will affect
overall efficiency. But, man: what a positive difference!"
Other complaints from Bolt EV drivers about the stock tires included
squealing around corners and the ease with which the wheels spin when using
the car's considerable peak power of 150 kilowatts (200 horsepower).
Jablansky initially estimated the difference in range on his Bolt EV to be
roughly 10 percent, which would have cut his Bolt EV's range from the EPA
combined rating of 238 miles to about 214 miles.
He subsequently wrote, "Update: after 250 miles on the new tires (mixed
driving), the loss is 7 percent over the full 238-240 (miles) I used to
see"—taking his range to roughly 220 miles.
As Bolt EV owners Matt Walton and Gregory Thomas Wagnon pointed out, last
month the enthusiast publication Motor Trend [
] also swapped the tires on its long-term Bolt EV, with some interesting
Its purpose was slightly different: The magazine wanted to test the electric
car's handling and skidpad performance against that of the Tesla Model 3,
and knew that to get the best out of the Bolt, it would need much stickier
"We shod our long-term Bolt with a set of BFGoodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2
ultra-high-performance (UHP) tires," wrote Michael Cantu.
The first thing drivers noticed with the new tires was considerably more
road noise. (One editor suggested turning up the volume on the car's stereo
system.) Ride quality also suffered, they reported, because the performance
tires have stiffer sidewalls.
But the new tires delivered what was wanted: "Handling and the overall
fun-to-drive factor have increased tenfold."
Then they strapped on some pricey testing equipment—and found to their shock
that while the Real MPG gear calculated the Bolt EV's range on the original
tires at 244 miles, that plummeted "by a staggering 27 percent" to 178 miles
with the sticky high-performance summer tires.
That may have been due, the article suggests, to the more aggressive driving
style the new tires permitted.
Read the whole Motor Trend piece [above] for the full analysis.
Numerous tire options exist for the Bolt EV, including substitutes also
defined as low-rolling-resistance units.
Owner Daniel Wright wrote, "I got the Yokohama Avid Acend; another good pick
is the Bridgestone Ecopia," for instance.
One note: the original Michelin tires are among the very few on the market
that are self-sealing, allowing Chevrolet to omit not only a spare tire but
also the sealing kit for punctured tires often provided in other electric
We'd suggest any Bolt EV owners who fit different tires to their electric
cars may wish to invest in an annual roadside-assistance membership for that
reason. Just in case.
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