How Ultra-Performance Tires Affect The Chevrolet Bolt
Increased traction comes with tradeoffs.
So, you bought yourself a Chevy Bolt. Congratulations! Now, what are you going to do to personalize it or make it better suit your driving style? Tint the windows? Do a chrome and badge delete? Bathe the whole thing in flat-black plasti dip? How about swap the Michelin Energy Saver A/S 215/50R17 all-season tires it came with for something that will increase grip? Tempting? Before you do that, read this.
Swapping stock tires is something that many new car owners consider. For electric vehicle drivers, this change can have both desired and undesired effects. The differences were brought into sharp focus by MotorTrend recently when they exchanged the stock low rolling resistance (LRR) rubber on their long-term Chevy Bolt loaner with definitively more sticky hoops: a set of BFGoodrich G-Force Sport Comp-2 ultra-high-performance (UHP) tires. Lucky for us, they took detailed notes of the results.
Before we delve into the numbers, let’s reflect on some of the differences noticeable without instrumented testing. Anecdotally, the UHP tires cut down significantly on the howling that happens when the stock LRR doughnuts are pushed near their grip’s breaking point while significantly increasing said grip, making highway entrance and exit ramps more manageable. Enjoyable, even, if you’re one of those who likes to take on cloverleafs with the driving aggression of an Andretti.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean the tires were quieter overall. Au contraire, mes frères. Ultra high-grip means more friction, and more friction means more noise. With the cabin of the Chevy Bolt absent of engine hullabaloo, the difference was notable and annoying to the MT tester.
Of course, the biggest impact was the hit on driving range, and these super-sticky summer tires really decreased it.
Based on the EPA-rated 238-mile driving range, our driving range decreased by 10.2 percent.The average ideal range after charging dropped from 248 miles to 224 miles, and the average predicted range dropped from 206 miles to 186 miles.
After subjecting the Bolt to another, ahem, battery of tests involving their EQUA Real MPG team, MT determined the new efficiency rating of the Chevy while wearing UHP shoes to be 89.2 MPGe in combined driving, down from the stock 122.2 MPGe (note: this EQUA Real MPG stock result differs slightly from the official EPA number of 119 MPGe).
While our source story is worth the read, the bottom line is this: moving to a different tire may improve handling, but it will also impact range. The ultra-high-performance tires tested here were really not a good match for the Bolt, taking the impact on range, the car’s stock suspension, and other factors into consideration. Still, there might be other options out there, which are better suited to your driving style. If you’ve tried a different tire on your Bolt, feel free to let us know in Comments.