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EV owners need to pump up - survey

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Most electric vehicle owners could do with putting some more air in their tyres, according to the latest Flip the Fleet survey.

Nearly two thirds (64%) of the 512 EV owners who responded to the survey reported that they only check their tyre pressure every six months or so, or even less frequently. Six percent never check their tyre pressure. Hopefully their mechanic does it for them during routine servicing and Warrant of Fitness checks.

"Having properly inflated tyres is not just a legal requirement, it greatly increases energy efficiency and range of the EV and it keeps the drivers’ safer on the road," said Alan Wilden, an EV owner from Dunedin and spokesperson for Flip the Fleet.

"Having the right pressure and making sure the tyres are well aligned greatly increases the life of the tyres too and means you save even more money from an EV" said Wilden.

Low pressure increases emergency braking distances, especially in wet conditions. Over-inflating tyres can be a problem too. It increases the chances of getting a puncture and can change steering and lateral grip so the car is harder to control when evasive manoeuvres or emergency stops are required.

Best practice guidelines for all vehicle owners is to check the tyre pressure at least once a month because tyres naturally lose between 1 and 2 pounds per square inch (psi) per month since they were last pumped up.

Most EV owners will be running on under-inflated tyres according to Wilden. But the situation is probably even worse for petrol and diesel car owners.

"Our survey showed many owners have increased their tyre checks since getting an EV, so petrol and diesel car owners must be running on even flatter tyres" said Wilden.

Increased vigilance amongst EV owners is motivated mainly by a wish to maximise the range on a full charge. Nevertheless, a few EV owners now do fewer checks, mainly because they no longer visit petrol stations or because they tend to use the EV for more local travel. Previously they checked tyre pressure mainly before a long trip, and these days EV owners tend to use an old petrol car that they keep as a second car for such big excursions.

Neglect of tyres may be part of a much bigger problem of people just taking technology for granted.

"Modern cars of all sorts require much less maintenance than the older cars I owned as a young man. People are getting out of the habit of checking and maintaining cars, including the tyres" says Wilden.

Certainly, the Flip the Fleet survey showed that many owners are pretty oblivious about their tyres. When asked what sort of tyres they used or preferred, many couldn’t say. Others answered "round ones", "black ones" and "ones without a puncture". Some replied "who cares" or admitted that "pure laziness" prevented them from checking their tyres often enough. But smarter owners realised the importance of the tyres for vehicle efficiency and targeted low rolling resistance brands. Two owners even filled their EV’s tyres with nitrogen rather than air because they believe that this keeps them properly inflated for longer and gives a smoother ride.

Flip the Fleet is a citizen science project that provides scientifically reliable information on the benefits and constraints of electric vehicles in New Zealand. The project is partly funded by the government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

Participation is free and all New Zealand’s electric vehicle owners can enrol at

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