Home / News / JD Power survey: EV owners say OE tires wearing out too soon

JD Power survey: EV owners say OE tires wearing out too soon

Jun 28, 2023Jun 28, 2023

SAN ANTONIO—We knew EVs were going to be hard on their tires. But what if it's worse than the industry expected?

Like, significantly worse.

Because according to the 2023 J.D. Power OE Tire Customer Satisfaction survey results, that may be the case.

EV owners—upon purchasing their vehicle—say they expect to get about 40,000 miles of life out of the OE tires. The reality, it turns out, is starkly different.

Consumers are getting just 13,000 miles before needing to purchase a replacement set.

"Customers put a third of importance on tires' performance and wear," Ashley Edgar, J.D. Power senior director of automotive supplier benchmarking and alternative mobility, said during the first day of the Smithers Traction Summit in San Antonio. "… Customers are expecting to get longer life out of their tires, but they are having to replace them three times sooner than expected."

And that, she added, could have significant impacts for the replacement decisions and, ultimately, brand loyalty.

The reasons for the rapid wear of EV tire tread is well known across the industry. Heavier vehicles, increased torque and regenerative braking add up to brand new challenges for tire makers, one they're working franticly to solve, especially on the materials science and compounding sides.

But it's a problem they're going to need to solve sooner rather than later because, as J.D. Power notes, nearly 30 percent of all new vehicles on roadways will be electric by 2026. That's a rapid rise, especially considering BEVs will account for just about 10 percent of sales this year.

"The adoption of electric vehicles has slowly been ramping up," Brent Gruber, J.D. Power's executive director of electric vehicle practice, told Smithers Traction Summit attendees. "But the time to approach those (EV) challenges or attack those challenges is certainly now. We are expecting adoption to increase dramatically in the next few years."

The J.D. Power OE Tire Customer Satisfaction survey reaches customers between one and two years after their vehicle purchase and requests feedback on four specific tire performance areas: appearance, ride, wear, traction and handling.

The good news is that the worst news from the survey revolves around the tire wear. And it comes as no surprise that ICE vehicle owners showed greater satisfaction with tire wear than EV owners.

"Digging a little deeper into what areas improved, all four categories that we looked at had a year-over-year improvement, with traction and handling being the most," Edgar said.

Comparing the satisfaction ratings of EV owners and ICE owners, it's obvious that much of the work the industry has done to address the major concerns of EVs—particularly in relation to ride comfort—made a difference.

"In all three areas of ride (comfort, vibration and noise), BEVs are exceeding ICE," Edgar said. "… It's clear that the efforts of both the OEMs working on the vehicle and tire makers working on the tire improvement that the entire system is working in harmony. There is no rattling in the engine, no tire noise. Nor is there an engine providing the noise vibration of the vehicle. There is more energy put into ensuring those characteristics are satisfied, since they are more highly noticeable."

Regarding the 2023 survey, the data being pulled in relates to 2020-22 model years and a timeframe where U.S. BEV sales were round 3 percent. Given the number of EV options on the market, there were few models and brands to be surveyed.

And because the industry is on the cusp of seeing EV sales rise, the data is coming primarily from what could be considered early adopters of EV technology. Early adopters, Edgar said, tend to have fewer problems and more positive outlooks regarding their vehicles.

Moreover, the 2023 survey saw a year-over-year increase of luxury models in the mix—a 27-percent overall jump to be exact. And luxury vehicle owners tend to have higher satisfaction rates due to an increased emphasis on quality.

This also means that, within the coming five years or so, the survey data will begin to diversify, Edgar said, as the number of the BEV offerings increase—both by model and brand—to meet mainstream buyers where they are.

"To put that in perspective, at the end of 2023, half of all shoppers will have a viable EV option available to them," Gruber said. "That means there is a product of interest that fits their budget, fits the body style they are looking for or the brands they are interested in."

In the next three years, that only will accelerate more rapidly.

By the end of 2026, Gruber said, 75 percent of shoppers will have viable EV options available.

And that makes solving the tire wear conundrum more critical than ever.

"I think it's an important factor for tire makers to consider," Edgar said, "because it ties directly to brand loyalty come replacement time."

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