Tesla Model 3 Highland now comes from the factory on Hankook Ion Evo tires

Up until now, most Tesla Model 3s have been running on Michelin tires as standard – most often on the Pilot Sport 4, or the sportier Pilot Sport 4S for the top-of-the-line performance models with 20-inch wheels. Neither of these models are primarily designed for EVs, the closest being the fuel-efficient ePrimacy, which Tesla is running on some models this year.

Why Hankook?

But now, at least the non-Performance models are going to get Hankook ION Evo tires from the factory. Let’s take a look at the reasons why this replacement may have happened. Teslas are definitely above average in terms of range within electric cars, and it is very hard for other car companies to catch up with Tesla’s efficiency. And now it’s going to be even harder – the just-unveiled Model 3 upgrade will extend range even further, by a full 10% with the same battery capacity. Certainly a lot of the credit for this goes to the reduction in body drag coefficient, but it’s also worth noting the change in tire supplier. And this is in contrast to this year’s Autobild summer tyre mini-test, where the Hankook ION Evo has 20% better rolling resistance than the Michelin Pilot Sport 5, so one can assume that changing tyres will also have a fairly significant effect on range. Which could also be good news for existing Model 3 owners looking to improve their vehicles’ range.

Possible reasons for the top-speed limitation

Another interesting piece of information regarding the new Model 3 is the top speed limit of 201 km/h, which is in other internet articles often justified by the tires used, which use Hankook Sound Absorber technology , which in very simplistic terms is a foam filling glued to the inside the tyre (see image below). This is particularly interesting because all Hankook ION Evo models, including the Sound Absorber ones, have a V speed index, i.e. up to 240km/h and often higher. So, two rationales are offered – either the assumption that the limitation is due to the tires is not based on truth, or Tesla had Hankook make its own OE variant of the tyre specifically for the Model 3 with a limited top speed but an optimized tread pattern just for the Model 3, which is something we are more used to in the premium sports cars, not particularly the EV segment. It would make sense, and it would give Tesla another competitive advantage over other brands that don’t do anything like this for such a fundamental model of their line-up. 

However, there is another explanation – the Model 3 Highland has also worked a lot on the car’s soundproofing, which was often criticized in the previous generation. In electric cars, it’s the tyres that make a lot of the noise. And the use of tyres with foam infill inside makes a lot of sense in electric cars, because the rolling noise is higher than in conventional cars due to the higher weight. 

Anyway, we’ll find out how the tyres on the Model 3 Highland really are soon enough, and it will be interesting to see what happens – because right now the decision is being made as to who will be considered the premium supplier of tyres for electric cars, and Hankook seems to have the upper hand so far. And there is also a good news for drivers that have to change to winter tires – there is a winter variant in the ION series called Hankook Winter I-cept ION, which should be addressing the lower winter range problem of the EVs.