Why Do Electric Cars Have Ugly Wheels? 


Perhaps you have been looking at your electric car’s wheels and are just not impressed with their look and style. Electric car wheels are a very important part of an electric car and important in more ways than just allowing the car to roll. We all know that the car can’t go anywhere without the wheels but why would that mean so many electric car wheels have to be so ugly? Wheels can add a lot to the overall look of a car. 

Why do electric cars have ugly wheels? Electric car wheels are specially engineered and designed to help optimize the vehicle’s range and in some electric cars, house components for regenerative braking. They are designed to look futuristic but are quite unpopular. Electric vehicle wheels are also designed to decrease air drag as much as possible to maximize the range of the electric car. 

Different tires and wheels are available for many different cars, so if you really do think your wheels are ugly then there are options. There are many things to consider though before you go and start changing your tires and wheels out. Engineers designed the wheels the way they are for a very specific reason so it may not be as harmless as you think it would be to change your wheels. 

Why Electric Car Wheels Are Ugly

Different wheel heights, widths, and styles were all tested and considered for electric cars. The height, width, and styles can all have an impact on the range of an electric vehicle. Currently, the companies that are manufacturing electric vehicles care more about the range of the vehicles than they do the good looks of the wheels. For now, one of the biggest challenges with electric cars is increasing the range of the cars, so that is the highest priority for car manufacturers and sadly that means that good-looking wheels were something that had to be sacrificed. 

Can You Put Better Looking Wheels On Your Electric Car?

If you totally despise the look of the wheels on your electric car then don’t fret, you do have the ability to change them. Most electric car manufacturers do provide options when it comes to wheel sizes, but not all of them. The tires that your electric car comes standard with are most likely going to be the tires that will give you the longest range. These stock tires are often designed to have low resistance which takes away from the grip of the car but allows the car to maximize efficiency and get more mileage off of a charge. 

Some companies offer other options however like high performance or even off-road tires. Racing and performance tires are often times wider than standard tires. The idea is that the wider your tire is, the more surface area there is between the road and your tires so the car has the ability to stay on the road while taking turns at a higher speed. The only downside is that these wider tires increase the drag of the car and obstruct the airflow under the car, therefore, decreasing the efficiency and range of the car. 

The same idea applies to tall tires. Many people want taller tires on their vehicles to make them look bigger or provide more ground clearance if they are planning on going off-road with their vehicles. This mainly applies to off-road tires seeing that performance and racing tires usually like to keep the car near the ground. Increasing the height of the tires not only increases the drag from the tires but the entire car. When the car body is closer to the ground, it is more aerodynamic but as the distance between the ground and the body of the car increases the car becomes less aerodynamic and drag is increased. 

Many electric cars feature something called regenerative braking. Regenerative braking takes the kinetic energy when your car breaks and converts it into usable energy for the car. The energy that your car gets from this isn’t nearly enough to keep your car charged for long periods of time but it can give your car a little boost. A big part of this system is housed in the center of the wheel and is often covered by the rims of the wheels. Many designers choose rims that cover up this system but there are options that allow you to have rims that are more traditional or allow you to have thinner spokes. 

How Much Mileage Difference Do Your Wheels Make?

Bigger wheels can decrease the mileage of your car as we talked about earlier but how much of an impact do they really have on the range of your car? Greencarreports.com talks about a study done by Jason Fenske in which he experimented with different tires and their effect on the milage of an electric car. Switching out standard low resistance tires for grippier, high-performance tires can decrease the range of a car with an estimated range of 200 miles by as much as 53 miles. 

While the stickier high-performance tires made a big difference getting wider tires doesn’t have nearly as much an effect. Fenske found that increasing the width by even 10 cm had decreased the range of an electric car with a range of 200 miles by only 2 miles. Even if you decrease the width of the tires below the standard width the effect is the same, the range of your car is extended by a very small amount. 

If you put off-road tires on your electric vehicle, perhaps you have an SUV or an electric truck that you would want them on, this will also affect the range of your vehicle greatly. Off-road tires are something that hasn’t been very tested on electric cars because until recently there haven’t been electric cars that have been built for off-roading whatsoever. Without testing, it is unknown the exact impact that off-road tires will have on the range of the vehicle but off-road tires will definitely be less efficient than the low resistance tires that come standard on most electric cars. 

Most likely, you can expect similar results to that of high-performance tires if not more of a range decrease. This is something you need to be very aware of if you plan on going off the beaten path of all-seeing that you can possibly be miles and miles from the nearest charging station. You do not want to get your electric car stranded on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. 

Do Aftermarket Wheels Still Work With Tire Pressure Sensors?

Aftermarket wheels can be a good option for getting more stylish wheels on your car if the stock wheels aren’t what you want. Putting aftermarket wheels on your electric car is very similar to if you were putting aftermarket wheels on a conventional vehicle. There are some extra difficulties that come with getting aftermarket parts for your electric vehicle but as long as your pay attention to bolt patterns, diameters, and widths of tires and rims you should be able to do it without too much difficulty. Even conventional vehicles usually require the installation of tire pressure sensors in the new wheels.

Electric cars are going to follow the same process but depending on your car manufacturer, you may also need to make adjustments to the car’s computer. Since electric cars are designed differently than conventional cars, it would most likely be a good idea to talk to the manufacturer or someone familiar with your specific car before trying to make changes yourself. Before purchasing any new tire pressure sensors for your vehicle, make sure they are compatible with your vehicle. Electric car tires don’t use any kind of special tire pressure sensors so you shouldn’t have any problem getting any trusted brand of tire pressure sensors to install.

If you have never installed tire pressure sensors before I would strongly suggest letting a professional install them on your electric car because it can be more complicated to install them on electric cars than on conventional vehicles. Be aware as well if your car has regenerative braking and be sure to check to see if replacing your wheels with aftermarket wheels will affect the braking system.

Recent Posts