- nextmove efficiency test with three Tesla Model 3 at 150 kph motorway speed
- Aero wheels reduce fuel consumption and increase range
Wheels that optimize the aerodynamics of the vehicle are available from many electric car manufacturers. Tesla, for example, offers the so-called Aero Wheels as standard equipment for the Model 3 at no extra cost. But what effect do they have? Do they really bring measurable gains in efficiency and range? Germany’s largest electric car rental company nextmove wanted to know exactly and performed a motorway test with three electric cars. A test video with English subtitles was released on the nextmove YouTube channel.
The Aero Wheels are not actually rims but a plastic wheel caps, that is mounted on the standard 18-inch aluminum rims. The owner can easily switch between the appearance of the aluminum rim and efficient aerodynamics. In the efficiency test nextmove has tested three Tesla Model 3 with Aero Wheel caps on the nextmove home track around Leipzig. A total of three laps were driven on a 94 kilometer circuit. The target speed was 150 kph and was constant except for a short ranged construction site. Two Model 3 completed two laps with and one without the Aero Wheel caps. The third Model 3 drove all three laps with the Aero Wheel caps as a reference vehicle, in order to be able to reproduce any external influences such as wind and traffic density and correct them later.
The analysis of the test data showed that the Aero Wheel caps reduce fuel consumption by three percent at 150 kph motorway speed. Calculated on a fully charged battery, this means a range gain of eight kilometers compared to driving without the caps. The costs for the Supercharger are reduced by a negligible 20 €cents per 100 km and the charging time shortens by about one and a half minutes.
Three percent? At first glance, that doesn’t seem much. But when you consider how much effort the car manufacturers put into optimizing the car body and drive unit, three percent is quite significant. A three-percent increase in battery capacity would have the same range effect, but would be many times more expensive than a plastic set of wheel caps.
Tesla has achieved a smart compromise between cost, efficiency and appearance with the Aero Wheels for the Model 3. If you like the aluminum rims visually better, you can leave the Aero Wheel caps off without losing much range. Because the Aero Wheel caps only achieve their efficiency advantage at motorway speeds, they could also only be fitted for long-distance journeys. If you look at the Model 3 wheels on the streets, you get the impression that most of the owners are using Aero Wheel caps in everyday life.