Tech Tip: Hybrid vehicle tires technology

If your shop sells tires you need to be sure you’re up-to-date on current tire technology for hybrid/electric vehicles.

Most, if not all, hybrid/electric vehicles utilize a special type of tire when they are produced.  These tires have a lower rolling resistance than traditional tires and help the vehicles achieve the fuel economy numbers they are advertised with.  When selecting replacement tires you need to ensure you install tires with similar characteristics or the fuel economy will suffer.  

Another factor that can affect the fuel economy seen by the vehicle owner is the tire diameter.  While two tires may be identified as being the same size, there may actually be some variance in the number of revolutions required to travel one mile.  If this variance is great enough it can affect the vehicle's mile-per-gallon (MPG) calculation that is displayed for the customer.  This means even though the vehicle’s fuel efficiency isn’t suffering the customer may be seeing data showing that it is.   

The moral of the story is to do your tire research before installing tires on a hybrid vehicle.  Hybrid vehicle customers typically pay close attention to their fuel consumption and are more likely to notice what some may consider insignificant changes.  

Tire Rack has a significant amount of information on these concerns you may want to read.  

(Read a three-part series on tire rolling resistance.

Information provided by: Automotive Research & Design (AR&D)