Going Spare - Why Spare Wheels Are Disappearing from New Cars
Published Date: 2nd May 2023
Spare wheels have been an essential piece of equipment for drivers for decades. They provide a sense of security and peace of mind on the road. However, not offering a spare wheel as standard equipment in new cars has gained momentum in recent years. While this trend may be concerning to some drivers, there are several reasons why spare wheels are disappearing from new cars.
Production Cost is one of the most significant factors. New car manufacturers are always looking for opportunities to control costs and improve their bottom line, and eliminating the spare wheel can save them considerable costs during production. A full-size wheel and tyre can cost around £150-£200 or more, while a space-saver wheel costs only a fraction of that price. These savings can (in theory) be passed on to the customer, resulting in a lower purchase price for a new car.
Another reason for the disappearance of spare wheels is space. Car manufacturers are always looking for ways to maximize interior space, and a full-size spare wheel takes up a significant amount of room in the boot. This can limit the amount of luggage or other items that can be stored, particularly in smaller cars where every inch of space counts. In contrast, a reinflation kit or space-saver wheel takes up much less space, freeing room for other belongings.
Weight is also a significant factor. A full-size spare wheel is heavy and can add unnecessary weight to your car, reducing fuel economy and increasing emissions. A lighter car requires less fuel to move, resulting in better fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Therefore, car manufacturers opt for reinflation kits or space-saver wheels, which are much lighter and can contribute to better fuel economy and lower emissions.
Electric cars have added another reason why spare wheels are disappearing from new cars. These cars have a much higher weight than petrol or diesel cars, primarily due to the battery pack, which can weigh 500-600 kg. The fuel cell takes up a lot of space, making it more challenging to accommodate a spare wheel. The car's design team has to make tough decisions on where to cut weight, and eliminating the spare wheel is usually one of them. By eliminating the spare wheel, the car's weight can be reduced, improving the vehicle's overall performance.
Furthermore, the battery pack's placement makes it harder to access the spare wheel well, which is typically located in the boot. With the battery pack in place, the car's design team has to make additional modifications to the car's structure, making it more expensive and challenging to install a spare wheel. Electric cars typically come with a tyre inflation kit consisting of a compressor and a sealant, which can temporarily fix a flat tyre. However, this kit has its limitations and cannot fix all types of punctures.
The absence of a spare wheel could be a significant disadvantage for electric car owners who live in remote areas. Unlike petrol or diesel cars, electric cars cannot be charged at any petrol station. Owners may have to travel further to find a charging station, which increases the likelihood of getting a flat tyre. If a driver gets a flat tyre and are unable to use the tyre inflation kit, they may have to wait for a tow truck to arrive, which can be frustrating and time-consuming.
However, not having a spare wheel does not necessarily mean you are at a higher risk of being stranded in the event of a flat tyre. Roadside assistance programs and advancements in tyre technology have made getting back on the road much easier. Moreover, some car manufacturers still offer space-saver or full-size spare wheels as an option, allowing drivers who live in rural areas to add them if they need additional security.
In addition to these factors, some Premium and Electric car manufacturers are exploring alternatives to spare wheels, such as run-flat tyres. Run-flat tyres are designed to continue functioning even when they are punctured and to continue driving for a limited distance. While this is a viable option, run-flat tyres are more expensive than regular tyres, and they have limitations in terms of the distance they can be driven after a puncture. Additionally, run-flat tyres can compromise ride comfort and handling, which may be unacceptable to some drivers.
In conclusion, while the disappearance of spare wheels from new cars may be concerning to some drivers, there are several reasons why car manufacturers are moving away from them. Cost, space, and weight are significant factors, especially in electric cars, where battery packs take up a lot of space and add significant weight to the vehicle. Moreover, advancements in tyre technology and roadside assistance programs have made getting back on the road much easier, reducing the need for a spare wheel. However, the absence of a spare wheel may still be a disadvantage for some drivers, particularly those living in remote areas. As car manufacturers continue to evolve production priorities, it will be fascinating to see how they respond to the changing needs of drivers during the demand for lighter, greener vehicles.
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**To ensure you get accurate information about the spare wheel status for the vehicle you want to buy, it's essential to confirm it's available at the time of purchase. Be aware that vehicle specifications, trim levels, options, and engines can change anytime, as vehicle manufacturers continually update and develop their products. Therefore, they reserve the right to modify the specifications without notice.