ERJ staff report (TB)
Washington DC-The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a final rule on tyre fuel efficiency grading, on the eve of a stakeholders' meeting to discuss how best to handle the consumer information and education portions of the standard.
NHTSA issued the 195-page document on its Web site March 25, with plans to publish it shortly in the Federal Register. The standard requires that tyre manufacturers grade replacement tyres for fuel efficiency (rolling resistance), safety (traction) and durability (treadwear) through testing methods set forth in the rule within 12 months of the rule's publication for 15- and 16-inch tyres, although the NHTSA hinted that the deadline for other passenger car tyre sizes may be extended to 24 months.
â€œComparing the three different ratingsâ€¦will enable consumers to see how different replacement tyres can affect the fuel economy they are getting from their vehicles,â€ the final rule states.
The standard calls on tyre makers to rate fuel efficiency as measured by Test 28580, which was finalised recently by the International Organisation for Standardisation. However, the agency has not yet completed all aspects of a procedure to correlate results between different testing equipment, and is postponing the specification of Lab Alignment Tires for the testing, the final rule said.
For safety and durability, NHTSA specifies the test procedures already called for under the Uniform Tire Quality Grading System (UTQGS), though the traction test may require a one-time modification in the software, the agency said.
NHTSA is deferring a decision on rolling resistance rating metrics, consumer information program requirements, information dissemination and manufacturer reporting requirements pending further public comment and consumer testing, the agency said.
At Tire Business presstime March 25, the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and the Tire Industry Association (TIA)-the industry groups most affected by the standard-were still studying the document.
â€œRight now there's a great deal that has yet to be determined,â€ an RMA spokesman said. The final rule leaves open the question of whether to measure fuel efficiency through the rolling resistance coefficient, he said, which the RMA favors, or rolling resistance force.
â€œApparently tyre manufacturers aren't required to send all test measurements to NHTSA, but just the ratings, which is something we advocated,â€ the spokesman said. On the other hand, the agency's research on consumer information is not scheduled to be completed until Sept. 30, he said.
â€œParts of the rule are encouraging, but I suspect we are going to wait for some time to see what will be the 'ultimate' final rule,â€ said Paul Fiore, TIA director of government and business relations. The Bowie, Md.-based trade association has said in its comments to NHTSA that it is the logical organisation to coordinate the consumer information aspects of the tyre fuel efficiency rule.
From Tire Business (A Crain publication)
Final rule on NHTSA website
Regulatory Impact Analysis of rule from NHTSA website
Federal Tire Efficiency Program Not Yet Ready for Consumers Switchboard Blog (US - New York)