Do You Put Winter Tires On Your Electric Car?


BMW i3 With Winter Tires - Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

BMW i3 With Winter Tires – Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

BMW i3 With Winter Tires - Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

BMW i3 With Winter Tires – Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

With snow now blanketing much of the U.S., we wonder “What do you do with your electric car now that winter’s white stuff is falling upon us?”

Are you, like BMW i3 owner Tom Moloughney, equipping your electric car with snow tires?

Do you put away your cherished electric ride until spring?

Do you tempt fate by driving on summer tires throughout the winter?

Is your car equipped with those all-around-compromised “all-season” tires and you view those as capable of handling winter?

Or do you live in a climate where winter is just a word, but not a bone-chilling, white-powder-filled experience that you can relate to?

Tell us in comments what you do with your electric car now that winter is approaching.

BMW i3 With Winter Tires - Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

BMW i3 With Winter Tires – Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

BMW i3 With Winter Tires - Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

BMW i3 With Winter Tires – Image Credit: Tom Moloughney

Category: General

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63 responses to "Do You Put Winter Tires On Your Electric Car?"
  1. Scott says:

    No. Why increase rolling resistance for the 10-12 days of snow we have in Colorado?

    1. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

      Guessing you live in Denver. Some of us live in snowier parts of Colorado. Yes, we put on snow tires, yes it reduces range 10% on top of the cold weather penalty, so yes our ICE cars get more use in the winter.

      1. RedLeafBlueLeaf says:

        I should point out that the key requirements for snow tires are both the presence of a lot of snow/ice and a lot of steep hills. In a place like, say, Chicago you can get by with all-seasons as long as you stick to roads that have been plowed. In hilly places you’ll need the extra snow tire traction both for getting up the hills and for braking going down hill.

        1. Scott says:

          I grew up in WI with rear-wheel drive on everything I’ve ever owned before the Leaf. The Leaf is great in the snow, but I’d imagine the Tesla would be tough (enter the D package.)
          I’ve never noticed a difference on a front wheel drive car between standard and “snow” tires. Ever. Ice is ice.
          Now studded tires up in the mountains, I could see 🙂

          1. ClarksonCote says:

            That’s mind boggling to me.

            I used to have a (front-wheel drive) Honda Civic. Without snow tires, I would slip and slide everywhere. With snow tires, I was a tank, and could pass SUV’s on the snowiest of roads without concern, with literally several inches of snow on the road.

            It’s a similar situation with the Volt, except that the Volt handles better without snow tires than my Civic did.

            1. John says:

              Electric cars are generally heavier, so they can get by better without snow tires. Studded tires are restricted in Ontario.
              I use all seasons since our roads are generally bare to wet. On my third winter, I’ll get a set of snows.

    2. Some winter tires have *lower* rolling resistance than all season tires. Nokian Hakka R2’s in particular – and I am fairly sure that the Bridgestones on the i3 are also LRR.

    3. Lausbub says:

      Here in Austria winter tyres are mandatory from Nov 1st to mid of April.

  2. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

    Nope, but then, we really don’t get much winter down here. I’m surprised that snow tires are available in i3 sizes tho, must be spendy…

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      Actually they are cheap. Low $100s a piece.

      1. Dr. Kenneth Noisewater says:

        Nice, that’s about what my dad pays for standard width 15″ on his dinomobile, and he really needs em for 3-4 months a year.. He has em on a separate set of steelies though, for ease of changing them out at home..

        1. The set of four costs $544 from Tire Rack and comes with the road hazard warranty.

          1. Phr3d says:

            your are describing the i3 tire which is a bit whack on sizing, correct, Tom? So likely cheaper for other models, and they last forever unless you drive at temps above 60F on the interstate.

            regarding a comment ‘ice is ice’, I -highly- recommend that you try them today. Ice is Ice to tires not designed to remain soft at temps below freezing, aka ‘all-season’ but a soft rubber will grip and go where ‘standard’ tires can only spin. I don’t expect to change any minds with words, but I have Yet to talk to anyone who has Had snow tires in snowy-icy climes and said, “naaah, not worth the money and trouble, gonna go back to cast-iron all-seasons”

  3. Nuitari says:

    Yes in Montreal.
    Nissan Leaf 2012.

    I’m using the Bridgestone Blizzak WS70 I bought before the Leaf on some DAI mags.
    The weight is about the same as the OEM four season set.

    Its a must for driving in Quebec to have winter tires.

    All season tires just can’t handle snow and cold.

    1. an_outsider says:

      From Dec 15 to March 25 in Québec, they are not a must, they are mandatory !!

      1. an_outsider says:

        Ooops, I meant Mach 15

    2. Priusmaniac says:

      All seasons tires are great and spare the hurdle of changing twice a year. The all seasons from Vredestein are good quality.

  4. Sean says:

    I have a set of General Altimax Arctic waiting to go on my 2014 Volt. Sadly GM uses a very odd wheel size/lug pattern for the Volt, so I can’t put the snow tires on steel wheels like I usually do. It snows enough here in MA to make snow tires useful, especially if you have to commute in the snow every day.

  5. Boyd says:

    Arkansas doesn’t get much snow. we typically get just the ice part (melting and refreezing – the kind you can ice skate on). no tires work well on that kind of ice. the whole state shuts down when we get that kind of ice, and it happens 2-3 times per year. Strangely, it happened this past March with a crazy ice storm.

  6. Lou says:

    Got through 2 winters in my Mitsubish I-Miev with the OEM tires. Honestly, never the slightest problem with handling, and I drove through a few very heavy snowstorms last year. Let’s see what this winter holds for me and my Volt. I sure am not in the mood to shell out $400-$500 for tires.

    1. Aaron says:

      I can vouch for this. Although we rarely get snow in Texas, last year we had some donut-worthy snow. With the traction control on, the i-MiEV handled the snow (albeit around 3 inches) with no problems. With the traction control off, it’s a handful!

    2. cmg186 says:

      Hi Lou, I also own a Volt and an i-MiEV!

      Never had snow/winter tires for any vehicle I’ve ever owned in South-Western Ontario. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the rear-wheel drive Mitsubishi’s ability to handle winter driving, though the range does suffer considerably in the cold.

  7. Chris says:

    Yes. I drive a lot and winters in Wisconsin can be very snowy. It’s a safety item. Worth every penny to keep you out of an accident.

  8. Mikael says:

    It seems like there are some places in need of much better regulations.
    Even considering getting into traffic without the proper equipment is just idiotic and irresponsible, not only toward yourself but toward everyone around you both in traffic and at home.

  9. Sean says:

    Absolutely, got a gently used set of winter tires before my first (Canadian) winter with my 2012 Leaf. It’s not just about the snow, it is also about stopping distance in sub freezing temperatures.

  10. Patrick J says:

    Put a set on my FFE last winter and so glad I did – makes a world of difference

  11. Jason says:

    I do on my Spark EV. The factory tires have horrible traction attributes, so I play it safe through the snowy months.

  12. Nicklas says:

    Yes, we use dedicated winter tires here in Sweden. Many months of both ice and snow.

  13. Rick Kop says:

    4 studded snows from Tirerack go on my Chevy Volt for the winter. I get great traction and my summer rims an tires last longer that way.

  14. Cold and dry weather is no real problem for non winter tyres (even when the tyre industry want to make you using them early with massive increased tyre wear), but on real ice and snow you must have winter tyres or not use the car.

    1. Djoni says:

      At very low temperature, say -20c° or below, and your stopping distance is getting a lot looooonger with all season tire vs winter one.
      The rubber compound ain’t the same.
      We got something here in Québec or Canada call black ice and icy road even when the road is absolutly clean but so frozen that the grip is horrible.
      Only a fraction of an inch of ice is too much on frozen road.

      1. -20°C is either only short period at night when you don’t drive or there is real ice on the street anyways.

        Tyre industry ads want to make people to switch to winter tyres already at +15°C.

        1. BraveLilToaster says:

          Huh? Here in Vancouver it’s always coldest first thing in the morning, when you’re going to work. And as much as some people would like to think that we don’t get winter here, we do, and in my experience, the roads are much more slippery, with both ice and slush on the roads.

          So we put winters on right about this time of year (I recall my wife is doing that today, in fact). The Michelin X-ice tires we got are actually low rolling resistance tires too, and we don’t lose much range, even though we gain much traction.

        2. Djoni says:

          Might be, but -20c° is not necessarly the treshold of slippery road.
          January 2014 average -16.2c°. Cold enough to skid with all season tire out off the road.
          And they worth nothing in snow for sure.

  15. MDEV says:

    Unable to find all season for 21″ wheels. That is the worse size ever, plenty 20″ and even 22″

    1. Nix says:

      I assume you are talking about Tesla 21″ wheels, right?

      It is tough to find winter tires for 19″ Tesla wheels too.

  16. Nix says:

    The last a looked a couple of months ago, there were NO winter tires available for the optional 20″ wheels for the BMW i3. The only winter tires I found were for the standard 19″ wheel size.

    This seems to be the same as what was reported here earlier this year:

    If you want to run winter tires on your i3, and you have the 20″ wheel package, the only option appears to be to buy another full set of 19″ wheels with winter tires.

    1. Eric Loveday says:

      Yes, that’s correct. 19s for winter tires, with new 19-inch rims. There are no 20-inch winter tires for the i3.

      1. Nix says:

        Thanks for the confirmation.

        We’ve got snow and sub-zero temps here all this week. Looking at the inventory, 13 out of the 25 BMW i3’s listed for sale within a 100 mile radius of me have the optional 20″ wheel package.

        Either the people doing the ordering at the local dealerships don’t know about the winter tire situation for 20″ inch wheels, or they don’t care and are leaving buyers to deal with the problem themselves.

    2. Are there 19″ steel wheels available for the i3?

      1. alohart says:

        Not that I know of. But with our i3 in Honolulu… bwa-ha-ha. However, our Honda Insight hybrid in Uppsala, Sweden, would be required to have winter tires from December through March, but it’s resting peacefully on jack stands in our garage while we enjoy our tropical winter until the snow melts next spring.

  17. EVer says:

    What winter??!!

    btw those rims dont look bad at all

  18. Edward Arthur says:

    Yes, snow tires on both of our rear wheel drive EV’s (in New England).

  19. Tom Moloughney says:

    After the crazy winter we had last year, I didn’t want to chance it. As you can see, these Brigestone Blizzaks have a fairly aggressive tread. I’m looking forward to seeing how well the i3 does in the snow.

  20. Stephen says:

    Yes. I put Michelin X-ice on my Volts last year in Seattle. I found them to handle nicer and were also no noisier than the standard fit tires. I could not detect any change in range after swapping. I felt the grip was improved in the winter rains as well as snow/ice of course.

  21. Airton says:

    I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to roll with snow tires on my Rav4-EV this winter (I drive the same NJ roads as Tom) but It did fairly well last year with the California low roll res tires guess the 4100 lbs and front wheel drive helps a bit 🙂

  22. Murrysville EV says:

    2012 Nissan Leaf

    Last winter and this winter, I’m running Continental PureContact all-seasons. They’re a great all-around tire – much better than OEM.

    But I’m considering getting dedicated snows for my Optima Hybrid since its OEM tires promise to be terrible in the snow.

  23. Ct200h says:

    Never mind snow, those wheels look great on the I3!

    1. Thanks, I agree. I wanted to go with something other than stock and this is the only choice for now. I’m sure there will be other options on the market soon, but the very unique size of the i3 wheels (19″ X 5″) meant there were no existing wheels on the market that could be used. Rial just came out with these for the i3. In fact, I was waiting for about two months for them to be available. They come in Black also and I know a couple i3 owners that have ordered them in black and will be getting them soon.

  24. Kyle Cuzzort says:

    Yes. Once last winter I actually drove around three four-wheel-drive vehicles who couldn’t make it up to our local ski area, including one stuck in the middle of the road that I had to drive around. The Leaf with snow tires works great!

    1. BraveLilToaster says:

      Yes! That was the other reason to put snow tires on in Vancouver! I’d almost forgotten about our trips up the local mountains last year. And yes, our Leaf handled the snow very well. Our Michelin X-ice tires also don’t hurt the range much.

  25. John says:

    Nope, second winter in the Focus Electric. Snowing and icy on the way home tonight from work. One car could barely get up a hill in front of me. The factory Michelin tires with traction control and 50/50 weight distribution works fine for Idaho.

  26. ModernMarvelFan says:

    Well, I guess I am lucky. I live in Northern California. Snow is a word for “fun”. We would only get snow if we “chase” after it by driving all the way to Lake Tahoe for some skiing/boarding… In those cases, it would be better to have an AWD SUV…

  27. Spaceshipcaptain says:

    I do use winter tires on my Opel Ampera..

    Winter tires have a better grip on cold and wet roads from about +7 Celcius, what I’ve been told.

    Too bad we didn’t have any snow last winter in The Netherlands, so I have not tried drifting the Ampera in snow yet.

  28. jimbay802 says:

    Yes, it is wise to do so here in Vermont. The coefficient of friction between the tire and road surface should be kept at a minimum during winter so I have studded General Altimax Arctic on both my 2012 Prius Plug-In and 2013 Ford C-Max Energi.

  29. Buffalo Mike says:

    I put a set of snows on my 2011 Volt and–thanks to that low center of gravity battery pack–I can plow through almost any winter storm with confidence. In fact, when my SUV-driving daughter needs to travel in bad weather, I feel more secure when she takes my Volt. (Of course, growing up in Buffalo and now living in the Finger Lakes, you either learn how to drive in the white stuff or learn how to hibernate.)

  30. Jay Donnaway says:

    With skinny tires, ABS, ASC, RWD and traction control, the i-MiEV does great in the snow with the OEM LRR Dunlop EnaSaves. On ice, it handled better than my Odyssey van with Goodyear Ultra Grips and on par with a ’92 Civic wearing Nokian snows (yep, a tank!). However, the original tread is getting thin, so I picked up a new set of rims and tires from one of the Sandy-flooded cars. I’m running this winter and next on those new tires, but have one more summer on the original set.

  31. Thomas J. Thias says:

    Eric, you said this in your colume:

    1) “Do you put away your cherished electric ride until spring?”

    2) “Do you tempt fate by driving on summer tires throughout the winter?”

    3) “Is your car equipped with those all-around-compromised “all-season” tires and you view those as capable of handling winter?”

    Hmmm. Now we know that you are an Electric fueled Vehicle Virgin! LOL

    Here Is a my article on GM-volt dot com addressing heavy snow, Michigan driving with my Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle-

    Excerpt:”Volt Ice And Snow Driving- Drives Like A Baby Cadillac Escalade!’

    “I have been totally impressed these past winter months with the magnificent handling of the Volt on snowy and ice packed roadways.

    While normal winter driving cautions that go with all vehicle driving must be considered, the Volt, to me, cuts through the snow and clings to the roadway like a baby Cadillac Escalade!~”

    The rest of the GM-Volt Forum weigh in. Most agree with me.

    Link Goes To Snowy/Icey Driving The Chevy Volt EREV At GM-Volt Dot Com-!-A-Breaking-Concern

    Now Eric, it concerns me that with so many newbees and courious new readers being drawn to the Number 1 Global Electric Fueled Vehicle News Site that the hypothetical questions infered a false reality.

    As you see in the responces to my GM-Volt post, Ice and Snow is NOT an issue untill the volume of snow reaches normal 4X4 depths.

    So… since you do not currently own or lease an Electric Fueled Vehicle I propose to fly you to Michigan at the first heavy snow, give you the keys to a 2015 Chevy Volt Extended Range Electric Vehicle, set you up at tha local Ramada that offers the comp of EV Refueling and let you pound around the city, Visit MSU, report on the home of the original GM EV-1 and realise that an EV such as the Chevy Volt or Cadillac ELR Extended Range Electric Luxury Coupe is more then capable in wintery snow and ice conditions of less then 6 inches of road snow.

    Ah, nice offer, but I can’t back it up…sorry retracted…but you get my point.

    Keep your great articles comming, Eric. You are reporting on the cutting edge of a major sea change in global transportation, actually happening at light speed before our very eyes!


    Thomas J. Thias


  32. Karl says:

    I’m approaching my first winter in the hills of Kansas City and since my LEAF is my only commuter car, I’m seriously thinking of dropping some coin on a set of winter wheels and tires. Some offers from Tire Rack for around $800 mounted and delivered.

  33. Anselmo says:

    Of course, I live in Finland!

    And by the way, the rolling resistance of “Nordic” winter tyres like the Nokian Hakka R2 on my Leaf is much lower than the standard ones.

  34. Kevin M says:

    Greeting EV enthusiasts! Winter started here in Minneapolis MN. on the 10th of Nov with 6 to 12 inches of snow and single digit temps..yuck. My family and I are starting our 2nd winter with our 2013 Ford Focus Electric. Love our car! Handles better than a gas car on snow and ice; I feel the more even weight distribution makes the difference.That said, the “all season”, low rolling resistance tires that came stock are scary on ice and snow, really slows you down. Most of us several hundred EV drivers in Minnesota swap to snow tires for the winter. Nokian is highly recommended. painted steel rims work if you dont mind the goofy look, that way you can swap them at home; safe and warm is stylish at 0 degrees! Our Ford’s winter driving range drops from 76 mi. to 50 miles on average 20 degF days. 40 miles at Neg 15 degF days. A larger battery will be beneficial in future vehicles. Electric cars start when nothing else will, just gotta have at least 110V! We are very happy with our very satisfied with our electric Ford,they would sell a lot more if they would advertise their own technology!

  35. Tom F says:

    It would be a shame for EV owners to garage their EVs for the winter. The economics of driving EVs over ICEs is even better in the winter. My electric fuel costs increase 35% in the winter, from 2.5 cents/mile to 3.4 cents/mile (0.9 cents/mile) mostly due to the need for heat, but my Prius fuel costs increase 17% from 7.5 cents/mile to 8.8 cents/mile, an increase of 1.3 cents per mile.

  36. Stephen Hodges says:

    After all the exciting winters you guys have had up there, I’m wondering when I will need a set of snow tires for my Leaf, but maybe I’ll wait and see what climate change does this winter… they may not be needed in Jamaica.:-}