Do Electric Cars Mean the End of Spare Tires?

Once upon a time, it was unwritten law that all cars came with a full-size spare tire. These days, you’re lucky to even get a “donut” tire. In the case of the Chevy Volt though, you get no spare at all.

According to a post over at GM-Volt.com, poster “VoltSoundz” found himself hitting a pothole in his all new Chevy Volt, and was rewarded with a flat tire. It’s a sucky situation for anybody to be in, made even suckier by the fact that the Chevy Volt comes without a spare tire. While GM is picking up the cost of the tire and provided the user with a rental car, his Volt has been down and out for two weeks while he waits for a replacement tire or, more likely, a replacement rim.

Why no spare tire? It has actually become increasingly common to forgo a spare tire in place of say, a tire inflation kit (which comes on every Volt standard.) So I’m not going to drag GM across the coals for doing what others in the market are doing as well. The Volt’s primary competition, the Nissan Leaf, also forgoes a spare tire in place of a tire inflation kit…not that you’ll ever be stranded too far from home in the first place. Even some gas-powered cars now forgo the spare tire in lieu of the smaller and cheaper “tire inflation kit.”

So GM is hardly alone in this, and they probably have good reason to do what they’re doing. You could make the argument that forgoing the spare tire saves weight, increasing efficiency by the barest bit. It is also possible that the extra space taken up by the battery made adding a spare difficult, if not downright impossible. Where the Chevy Cruze’s battery is located, underneath the floor panel in the trunk, lies the Volt’s APM and AGM auxiliary batteries. Which brings me to my next point.

With the rise of hybrids and electric vehicles, interior space may increasingly come at a premium, and every inch counts. Right now, many gas-powered cars are being retrofitted to take electric drivetrains, which means working around the existing architecture. As cars are designed from the ground-up as pure electric vehicles though, the engineers may decide to just leave out the clunky cutout in the trunk where most spares go, in order to devote that space to more batteries or control systems. The spare tire is on the endangered species list…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

However, in the case of VoltSoundz, his Volt is out of action for two weeks while he most likely waits for a replacement rim (which will have to come new from GM.) And given that electric cars face special challenges when it comes to towing, calling a wrecker may end up wrecking your costly EV. Will the loss of spare tires mean more inconvenience for the average driver? Or will the spare tire disappear with nary a tear shed?

I know I will miss the spare tire, but what about you guys?

Source: GM-Volt | My Nissan Leaf

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.

 

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.