Liverpool Victoria’s breakdown division, LV= Britannia Rescue, revealed that more than a third of call-outs to EV owners are down to punctures, wheel issues or tyre damage.
And the heavier weight of battery-driven EVs is playing a major role in the increased number of owners having to seek help when things go wrong. Range anxiety has traditionally been the leading cause of concern for motorists when it comes to EVS, with drivers worrying that they will run out of battery charge miles from the nearest charge point.
But in fact, says LV= Britannia Rescue, the number of drivers calling them out to deal with batteries running out of charge is much lower than most would expect, making up just 11 percent of all EV calls.
That’s less than a third of the amount who need emergency assistance due to wheel and tyre issues at 36 percent.
LV= Britannia Rescue, who compiled the information between 2018 and 2021, found that petrol and diesel owners needed help less than half as much as EV owners for the same problems at 16 percent.
“Wheel or tyre problems are often attributed to the excess weight of the car, caused by the battery, which can make it up to 50 percent heavier than a traditional petrol or diesel car,” said the recovery service.
“Wheel issues are sometimes made more complicated by the fact that most manufacturers no longer fit a spare wheel as standard, so drivers caught mid-journey with a flat tyre or wheel issue can’t fix the problem themselves and need towing to a local garage.”
Some tyre manufacturers are trying to mitigate the effects of the weight of EVs by making special tyres with rubber specifically designed for battery-powered cars.
The tyres are made to be quieter than usual to allow for the silent nature of EVs and with additional resistance in order to protect range and make them more energy efficient.
EV owners also suffer from the winter-tradition of a car not starting in the morning, with 21 percent of call-outs to LV= Britannia Rescue due to what is known in the EV industry as ‘dead on key’.
It can happen due to a variety of factors including a battery not holding its charge or the vehicle not being driven for some time, but it is twice as likely to happen to petrol or diesel owners at 41 percent of call-outs, especially in the colder months.
“Generally electric cars perform very well and aren’t susceptible to suffering nearly as many issues as petrol or diesel models, but if you do have a problem it’s more likely to be wheel or tyre related, or dead on key,” said Henry Topham, LV= Britannia Rescue’s MD.
“Range anxiety has been built up to be a thing for people to be concerned about when it comes to going green, but our data shows that in reality it’s a very rare issue for electric car drivers.”
EVs are more complicated to deal with when they break down on the road, as manufacturers say they can’t be towed and recovery vans can’t carry replacement batteries due to the unrealistic weight.
This has led to recovery companies trying to come up with alternative methods, like giving stranded cars a small amount of battery charge or the AA’s Freewheeling hub which allows an EV to be towed without the wheels touching the ground.
The RAC has a system called EV Boost in its patrol vans which is the size of a shoebox and supplies around 18 miles of range per hour charging.
Car manufacturers are also working hard at the issue, the Hyundai Ioniq 5 for instance has an optional ‘reverse charger’ that lets owners donate some battery charge to other EV drivers.
And start-up US manufacturer Rivian has developed a ‘tow charging mode’ for its new battery powered trucks where the battery can be recharged while the vehicle is being towed, via regenerative braking.
As more car manufacturers announce they’ll no longer be making petrol or diesel cars within the next 10 years or so, better solutions for keeping EVs charged are being worked on.
Researchers at Cornell University in the US have been developing a special roadway that would charge cars as they drive on it.
If an EV driver was running low on battery charge they would move into the lane to charge their vehicle, after which they’d be sent a bill for what they used.
But the technology is likely to be at least 10 years away and would require major work to motorways.