Why Big Wheels Are A Bad Idea On Electric Cars - Range Impact!


How Much Does Wheel Size Impact An Electric Car's Driving Range?
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Do bigger wheels affect EV range? How much more range will a Tesla Model 3 have with 18" wheels, versus 20" wheels? What about a Tesla Model S, or a Tesla Model X? In this video, we'll analyze how tire width, rolling resistance, and wheel size impact an electric car's range. Personally I was surprised how large the impact is! Especially for highway driving, it's important to know how your wheel size can affect your electric car's range. And with the knowledge learned from this video, is it possible that big wheels alone make up a significant portion of our nation's emissions? Join team big sidewall to see ride comfort, cost, efficiency, and emissions benefits!

Related Links:
EV CO2 Estimate - afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/electric_emissions.html
Annual CO2 USA - www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions
EPA Road Load Data - bit.ly/2ESIwE3
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  • leftcoaster67
    leftcoaster675 timer siden

    Tell me you're going to teach engineering? You're an outstanding teacher.

  • bira
    bira2 dager siden

    Given total diameter of wheel/tire combo, tire width, and and same actual tire compound and tread pattern, other than a larger wheel possibly being heavier and possibly causing more air resistance (which is not necessarily so), there should be very little difference in efficiency.

  • George h
    George h3 dager siden

    Isn’t the rolling resistance mostly from hysteresis in the tire rubber rather than friction coefficient on the road?

  • Aptkeyboard
    Aptkeyboard5 dager siden

    Honestly, most public roads are not maintained well enough for 20+ inch wheels to be a good choice. It makes the ride quality worse and much more likely to get a flat tire or bent rim. Performance and aesthetic gains from large diameter wheels is not worth the other drawbacks.

  • Max Bradley
    Max Bradley7 dager siden

    I don't think you actually said why bigger wheels are less efficient. If the overall tyre diameter is the same why does it matter if you have bigger or smaller wheels? Is it just a weight thing?

  • Varun Wadhwa
    Varun Wadhwa9 dager siden

    I am in the same boat with my P3D - and this math checks out approximately.

  • James Brown
    James Brown16 dager siden

    The car industrie has got reason - it sets trends, trains people state of the art (design, technologie, financing, legislation, etc), keeps people busy and occupied, contributes to a nations gdp, thus provides force that can be directed (inside/outside) - it has nothing to do with transportation or environment. At least not very much.

  • bullwhipjesus
    bullwhipjesus16 dager siden

    Seems like he's basing this on rim size and not total tire height? Shouldn't this be based on total tire height?

  • Jeremy Jose
    Jeremy Jose17 dager siden

    Your brain cells must be in steroids! You should be working for NASA. All well said, unfortunately, some people simply go for the looks.

  • Scott Campbell
    Scott Campbell17 dager siden

    Big wheels increase unsprung weight, affects handling, braking, and acceleration. Plus it burns extra gas and electricity

  • Scott Campbell
    Scott Campbell17 dager siden

    Stick with 18 inch. They are lighter and you have more rubber to absorb ruts and curb bruising. I owned a MB S class with 21 inch rims. It destroyed the handling with increased unsprung weight. I hit a large pot whole, blew all four tires and cracked all the rims. Went back to 18 inch

  • Chris Butler
    Chris Butler18 dager siden

    So 11 minutes of basically explaining that more rotating mass = less efficiency... pretty much could summed that up in 1 minute

  • Martin Halley
    Martin Halley18 dager siden

    SLOW DOWN ! Do you have a 'plane to catch? No! Then speak normally.

  • Muthukumaran N M
    Muthukumaran N M18 dager siden

    But, why? Why does a larger wheel reduce range? The diameter of the tire is the same, width is the same. You didn't explain that. Engineering NOT explained. ;-)

  • Tim Palmer
    Tim Palmer18 dager siden

    I thought the range would be improved with the larger tyres diameter as it increases the gearing. ie for every revolution it goes a bit farther than with the smaller tyre.

  • Leonard Mills
    Leonard Mills18 dager siden

    I'm impressed. You are talking to me as if I was intelligent enough to understand it.

  • Tullio Fazzio
    Tullio Fazzio19 dager siden

    Just watched this video. Thanks for the explanation. Question and clarification on wheel size. Do the larger wheel sizes refer to the diameter only or do they also include wheel width. If only diameter does the resistant force increase with speed because of the wheel mass difference and slightly increased frontal area of tire ( assuming width is the same from 18-20” rim). Please clarify why larger wheel dia increases resistance force

  • Antonio
    Antonio19 dager siden

    how about tyre pofile 45/50/55/60% efect rolling resistance?

  • Ficon
    Ficon20 dager siden

    Tesla is cute with their EPA numbers. Subtract 100 miles from that 75 mph range for the real values (Car and Driver testing vs Taycan Turbo which matched EPA range).

  • dark matter
    dark matter22 dager siden

    What if you use a hubcap over the wheels. That will improve aero, right?

  • dark matter
    dark matter22 dager siden

    I like the look of bigger wheels or smaller tires

  • goatmonkey2112
    goatmonkey211223 dager siden

    Is the difference in range from wheel size just due to increased weight? Often switching from factory wheels to aftermarket wheels will drop the weight if you do it right. What happens if you go with some super expensive carbon fiber wheels for example? Or even better, the smallest size carbon fiber wheel.

  • Daniel Bustos
    Daniel Bustos23 dager siden

    2in difference definitely does give a big impact.

  • Affalterbach Brackley 1967
    Affalterbach Brackley 196724 dager siden

    This is about wide tires, not tall tires ? ( All tires matter.)

  • peter PETER
    peter PETER24 dager siden

    No car needs less than 50 PROFILE tires

  • peter PETER
    peter PETER24 dager siden

    They say that electric cars are good for environment. But where do dead batteries go?

  • Salipander ErisGeenAnder
    Salipander ErisGeenAnder24 dager siden

    Driving around in town with 30 mph, the difference can even be 25%! That is substantial...

  • marcel guwang
    marcel guwang24 dager siden

    Ok but why ? It is finally Tesla data that gives the 15% Is it the aerodynamics of the side walls ? (mainly inner side wall) or the shape of the rims ? Or what ?

  • Jaime Jyawook
    Jaime Jyawook24 dager siden

    As an OEM engineer, I was really disappointed there was no explanation of the rationale behind this theory. I read the update below, that is was an Aero benefit. If that’s the case, you should be promoting smooth flat wheel surfaces not smaller wheels because the wheel size is not the real reason.

  • J Austin
    J Austin25 dager siden

    @ 1:55 " air rushing beneath the car" The air does NOT rush beneath the car. The air is pretty much standing still. Engineering Explained. Thanks for that insight, Jason.

  • Mack Cullison
    Mack Cullison27 dager siden

    Work = Force x Distance = change in energy.

  • Marius Buciuman
    Marius Buciuman28 dager siden

    Yeah but saving $ is not COOL. JK

  • Roy Moorman
    Roy Moorman29 dager siden

    I still don't understand why a change in wheel (rim) diameter alone would impact range so much. It seems to me that tire profile/width difference between wheel options explains most of the difference in the Tesla case ? I was hoping to understand how a bigger tire wall leads to better efficiency. E.g. is there less energy lost in deforming a bigger tire wall as opposed to a smaller tire wall ?

  • Dan Cooper
    Dan Cooper29 dager siden

    how are you calculating the range vs speed chart? I'm curious to develop one for my car and to see what the factors might be going from an 18" wheel to a 15 or 16" wheel.

  • Adam Steele
    Adam SteeleMåned siden

    EV fan boy

  • Jose Cuevas
    Jose CuevasMåned siden

    It’s not only how to save the planet, but also how to save your wallet against unexpected expenses, due to the fact that we don’t live in a perfect word. A tire with a taller side wall will give softer ride. Because they double as an air spring specially protecting us against unexpected pot holes that our “drunken insolvent state governments” can’t properly repair and only do band-aid fixes again and again. Low profile tire make Tesla efficacy rating look good that good for marketing. Further, this is not efficient in your wallet when you come across an un detected pot hole that make a hole on your wallet and gets you in to deeper debt since you had to resort to your credit cards to bail your self out. Jason dose this sound familiar...Hummm.... Less impact on the environment but more impact on you hard earned fiat (monopoly money) dollars.

  • Josh Ashley Suelto
    Josh Ashley SueltoMåned siden

    *laughs in liking small wheels*

  • Daniel Stefanov
    Daniel StefanovMåned siden

    Just put F1-style wheel covers on the wheels and you're done - no aerodynamic impact, all the range.

  • HumanShade
    HumanShadeMåned siden

    10:45 the moment it felt like TV shop with a white board :D

  • David A
    David AMåned siden

    Why does no one mention that a 20" wheel travels farther in one revolution than an 18" wheel? Seems to me that you would record a higher travel range on a lower wheel size than a larger wheel size though they travel the same distance. This is because a smaller wheel will have to make more revolutions per distance than a larger wheel. The odometer would have to be re-calibrated for the different wheel size changes to give accurate travel results.

  • Philip Miller
    Philip MillerMåned siden

    I'm sure the fad of oversize grills on many current internal combustion cars have an adverse effect on their drag coefficients. Styling, in general, costs fuel economy. Aircraft are not whimsically styled; if they were, climb, top speed, range and payload would suffer.

  • PurchenZuPoden
    PurchenZuPodenMåned siden

    It would be really great if you could explain to us why the wheel size has so much impact and if there are measures to compensate energy loss due to rim size e.g. Carbon Fibre or magnesium rims.

  • CG
    CGMåned siden

    After we exit the Paris Accord, our carbon was less than when we were in it.

  • Diogo Nunes
    Diogo NunesMåned siden

    But... A bigger tire is worse for the environment cause you need more rubber, so only taking into account the range increase is far from realistic. Also I was expecting a discussion in terms of the wheel weight (difference between weight of the wheel + tire with different size wheels) which I expect to have a significant effect

  • Eugene
    EugeneMåned siden

    Unless you're literally going to be racing your car, larger wheels are nearly always a disadvantage.

  • Mario Frančešević
    Mario FrančeševićMåned siden

    Regarding ride comfort -- have you considered going for aftermarket suspension? Seems like that could solve a lot of problems...

  • Reinier NN
    Reinier NNMåned siden

    I'm a little surprised about this video. I miss in the given data from Tesla one of the most important facts. That is not the diameter of the wheel (excluding tyre). That we have. It is the width of each tyre....Is it 175 mm or 305 mm... The next issue....The wheel shown at the start is NOT aerodynamic , just look at the spokes in that wheel and compare with those in the smaller wheel....the original black tesla wheels are more aerodynamic. The difference in air resistance is not only related to the size of the wheel, but also to the exact shape of every detail. Also I know that putting extra air in the wheel reduces the heating during driving and lowers the energy usage a few %.

  • Momo_9k
    Momo_9kMåned siden

    Anyone have wheel size opinions for gas and hybrid vehicles?

  • mayur rathan
    mayur rathanMåned siden

    Can you explain why going smaller wheel size increases efficiency? What is the engineering/math behind that? Of course keep the rolling resistance and width of the 2 sizes the same. I still couldnt figure that out. By that logic if i go to a 16" wheel, will i get even more range?

  • Josh's Car Corner
    Josh's Car CornerMåned siden

    Jason, do you think it's the weight of the wheels that is affecting range so much, or is it the dimensions of the wheel?

  • Acme Fixer
    Acme FixerMåned siden

    I'm glad to hear that higher profile tires save energy. Why did he only use the front wheels? The rear wheels have some aerodynamic resistance, too.

  • Acme Fixer
    Acme FixerMåned siden

    I'm puzzled why he and others call them wheels when they are *rims* ...

  • Jordan Karim
    Jordan KarimMåned siden

    Jason, what if you took off the unnecessary BBK and went down to a smaller sliding caliper? Could go with a smaller wheel and get even more range!

  • Carson Baker
    Carson BakerMåned siden

    What is the lower bound? 2" diameter wheels are too small, but what about 15"? What's stopping us from going smaller?

  • Bimble
    BimbleMåned siden

    2:58 you are taking the Cd for the whole car rather than just the wheels, which I imagine will be a lot higher than 0.25 Cd. Also the rolling resistance of the wider tyres will be higher in rain or on snow. (yes I am nitpicking).

  • kitko33
    kitko33Måned siden

    Isn't it all about the width of the tire? We have two exactly same hybrids (Toyota Auris, based on Prius III) - one has 16 205/55 tires, the other 17 225/45. The car on the smaller tires gets about 20% better economy. The secret is the width of the tire - the total width of the 17 inch tires equals the width of 5 16 inch tires. In other words, driving the 17-inch Auris is like driving the 16-inch Auris with 5 wheels.

  • radzewicz
    radzewiczMåned siden

    I can see it now: "Big Wheels," the racial slur of the future, hurled by drivers of small-wheeled EVs.

  • Vision33r
    Vision33rMåned siden

    I dented three 19" Tesla Sports wheels in a year. These wheels are not good for bad urban roads. A typical pothole in urban cities need atleast R50 to prevent the wheel from taking impact and these Tesla 19-22" rims are not strong and the tires are too thin. I switched to 18" wheels and so far so good.

  • Anders Harestad
    Anders HarestadMåned siden

    Does having larger tires affect stability and handling?

  • A-Frame-Wedge
    A-Frame-WedgeMåned siden

    CO2 is a trace gas in our atmosphere. We could ruin the economy for negligible difference in global temps. The climate computer models on climate have been so far off why should we belive them? Climate change is all about controlling people and redistribute wealth.

  • Andrew
    AndrewMåned siden

    Is the ultimate reason for this variance that larger tires on smaller diameter rims offer lower rolling resistance? Rolling resistance would of course be influenced by tire pressure, tread compound, and sidewall pliability. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on tire compound and pressure in this regard. What is the hypothetically optimum rim diameter and tire size for maximal efficiency? As a side note, many endurance cyclists have been rediscovering the benefits of fatter tires on slightly smaller diameter rims, enjoying the added comfort and potentially lower rolling resistance on rougher road surfaces.

  • Bartek Trusewicz
    Bartek TrusewiczMåned siden

    I - do you prefer to use metric system or imperial system? Jason - yes

  • Austin Ferguson
    Austin FergusonMåned siden

    Fixing to switch to 18" rims and different tires on my model 3 to gain back some range and efficiency. The 19s look at nice but that's about it..

  • vhjioa
    vhjioaMåned siden

    Great video as always! Does this apply to ICE cars too?

  • Tim G
    Tim GMåned siden

    I wonder what this guys IQ is.

  • Ray Kent
    Ray KentMåned siden

    So in the next tour de France they'll be using bikes with very small wheels? Or less shallow tyres? No, mate. They push for ultimate efficiency. I doubt that you could be more energy efficient. Big wheels, shallow tyres.

  • dahveed284
    dahveed284Måned siden

    Why no model Y analysis? Assuming it's performance is similar to the model 3, I might make a change to smaller wheels/bigger tires. I have a Model Y performance with the standard 21" wheels coming.

  • Yugo Time
    Yugo TimeMåned siden

    Monster Trucks for the environment.

  • Ecospider5
    Ecospider5Måned siden

    So would a 15” wheel be even more efficient. I understand we need space for good breaks but that is a solvable problem if really small wheels have a big efficiency benefit.

  • Corey S
    Corey SMåned siden

    Big wheels on cars is a bad idea in general. Most people drive in stop-and-go traffic, where large wheels are a greater detriment. Large wheels are only good for long range driving with no acceleration.

  • Vic Tor
    Vic TorMåned siden

    this has nothing to due with "drivability"! its a cultural thing. but i love how you try an explain stupidity.

  • Fabio Bandini
    Fabio BandiniMåned siden

    I wonder if there is a plateau on increased efficiency and smaller tire size. How small can you go before it negatively impacts your range?

  • Tommy
    TommyMåned siden

    For all cars not just electric cars. Hey smart engineering let’s talk about ICE cars bad for environmental.

  • Glenn Ruhl
    Glenn RuhlMåned siden

    This should be just as true for range and mpg with a gasoline or diesel vehicle, shouldn't it? Doesn't angular momentum / rotational inertia have something to do with why a larger wheel uses more power?

  • Mr C
    Mr CMåned siden

    0.6% wow. Just think how much we could save by going with white wall tires. 😁

  • James Cameron
    James CameronMåned siden

    And this would explain the logic behind the BMW i3’s little goofy wheels.

  • Xuan Zheng
    Xuan ZhengMåned siden

    205mm is now considered a *slim* tyre, wow.....

  • Ferenc Tóth
    Ferenc TóthMåned siden

    This is a very long awaited video from my side. I believe when journalists compare EV ranges they don't really take wheels and tires into account. They may mention it at best. I also has a theory that most of the range difference between Model S and Tycan comes just from this wheel difference (there are other factors, but I think this is one of the important factors). Also there may be something with Polestar EPA estimate as well. And it is very interesting to see that everyone believes that Tesla is so much ahead of EV drivetrain efficiency, while I think they only have about 5-10% there at best. Most is aerodynamics, weight and wheels. And part of Tesla's 600 bn valuation is coming partially from the idea that they are so much ahead.

  • Peter Švančárek
    Peter ŠvančárekMåned siden

    Bicycles: There is hype of 29" wheels. And I did some drives on bicycles with wheels with 29", 26", 20" and 16" What do you think gives most dynamic riding with least energy needed? 16"!!! True, 16 inch wheels give less comfy ride especially offroad(on good road there is no difference in comfort), but the steering is easier, the bike is much lighter, the acceleration rates are much, much higher(low mass of wheel) and the rolling resistance seems to be lower.

  • Oliver Hoffmann
    Oliver HoffmannMåned siden

    What about the environmental impact of tossing all those 20" wheels/tires and manufacturing millions of replacements? But seriously, I appreciate the info!

  • Daniel
    DanielMåned siden

    I like listening to common sense. Thank you.

  • Daniel


    Måned siden

    @Dragos Pahontu I am surprised he didn't talk about tires pressure...

  • Dragos Pahontu

    Dragos Pahontu

    Måned siden

    I'm surprised he didn't talk about unsprung weight.

  • Matjaz Walland
    Matjaz WallandMåned siden

    Hello can you do this math for a petrol and diesel car. would a gearbox on an electric car make constant battery consumption and improve battery life?

  • zvxcvxcz
    zvxcvxczMåned siden

    Do my ears deceive me, or is he trying to one up The Majority Report's "win-win, win?"

  • aWOLFY2
    aWOLFY2Måned siden

    mrs Engineering Explained so if the Tesla roadster come out and you put 17 on it will go faster and have better range

  • Martijn Westerink
    Martijn WesterinkMåned siden

    Since electric cars don't use their brakes a lot... Why doesn't the Model 3 come with 16" and 17" options? That'd be a great size for winter tyres. All formula based wheels by Braid are still either 13" or 15". If you want to stand out, big sidewalls are it!

  • traumajock
    traumajockMåned siden

    My 1987 Subaru GL Wagon had 13 inch wheels. I've never seen those before or since. I wrecked it in 93, put it between two trees and straightened it out with a come-along. Straightened the radiator mounts and a fender with a hammer, slapped in the new radiator and a headlight assembly and drove it another 5 years.

  • Nick G
    Nick GMåned siden

    But assuming the same diameter, don't taller tires (on smaller rims) deform more than short tires on bigger rims?? I am not convinced the Crr comes from deformation.. there must be more to it

  • D Bradford
    D BradfordMåned siden

    Save the planet? That is some full blown conceit thinking you know how to do that.

  • Danny Czech
    Danny CzechMåned siden

    Isn't it this range difference between 18 and 20 inch wheels caused by area of disc being empty space? If you had normal 18 inch wheels and some aero 20 inch wheels (completely flat area of disc), shouldn't be these 20 inch wheels better than those 18 inch, because of aerodynamics?

  • Mikel Packer
    Mikel PackerMåned siden

    I thought I'd missed it, but been through this a couple of times now and nothing mentioned Jason @Engineering Explained about why? Rolling resistance doesn't explain it, frontal area doesn't, what does? Otherwise really good video as usual, thanks (:

  • bmwman1981
    bmwman1981Måned siden

    The problem with little wheels and big sidewall tyres is that on a car like a Tesla they look silly and don’t fit the arch space very well

  • gotindrachenhart
    gotindrachenhartMåned siden

    You didn't even mention wheel weight or rollout in your calculations though.

  • Paul Ho
    Paul HoMåned siden

    The fatter, the better. I miss the sidewall from my 4Runner going to a Prius C.

  • Vidar V.
    Vidar V.Måned siden

    Haha, have you seen the wheels on bmw i3 😉 efficiency!

  • YouSpamTard
    YouSpamTardMåned siden

    Snowflakes. Why use an 18" wheel? By the information in this video I have to presume that putting a 17" wheel would be better, a 16" wheel would be even better, and a 15" wheel just like in the old days may be best of all. If the idea of having an electric car is to slow the destruction of the environment, doesn't having an electric race car at least somewhat defeat the purpose and therefor be hypocritical to the initial idea? No matter what you snowflakes come up with, we are still all of us living in a world dictated by the basic laws of thermal dynamics. No matter how energy is manipulated as to its form,there is always a price to pay in one way or another. It seems there is a downside to all of it. Am I the only one who seems to recognize this? Now, Engineering Explained, explain to us all how we can have some nuclear fusion in the form of a small sun down here on earth real close to us so we can all have clean energy for ever and ever. Yeah, right. Good luck and God bless us all.

  • Rickbearcat
    RickbearcatMåned siden

    The one obvious question you failed to ask is while the wheel size is getting bigger (18" to 19" to 20" to 21"), the tire diameter is remaining the same. Also taking into account all these different wheel sizes are holding tires of the same width, let's just say 285mm. So, nothing should be changing at all. Please explain if I am right or wrong on this.

  • Shawn Mirza
    Shawn MirzaMåned siden

    Big side walls all the way, less of an issue with pot-holes, very well,done!

  • The Greek Mancunian
    The Greek MancunianMåned siden

    Same with the petrol cars

  • stefanlaine
    stefanlaineMåned siden

    So the battery-car should have wheels from a go kart''... gratz

  • wordreet
    wordreetMåned siden

    Unfortunately your calculations are all out the window and up in the air, since you calculated the wind resistance of the tire below the bodywork as a flat square, rather than a curved AND rolling surface with sipes and grooves. The curved shape alone mitigates the equilibrium via the coefficient of friction within the atmospheric locality. On top of that, squished air negation synergy facilitates a nuance of cooling effect, which is variegated across the surface of the rubber by the different widths of the aforementioned grooves and sipes. That very cooling effect reduces, somewhat, any adjusted efficiencies within the traction parabola. So, with the traction reduction thusly caused, and overtly egregious calculations are minimalised to the actual benefit of the potential rolling resistance and therefore, the mileage available. Given all this, your conclusions are likely to need correction by at least o.ooooooo a bit. I need another cuppa after all that!