ERJ staff report (LMH)
By Louise McHenry, ERJ Senior Reporter
London - As of today, 1 Nov 2012, all tyres sold in the European Union must display a label, which informs customers about the tyre's fuel efficiency, wet grip and external rolling noise.
The standardised label, which is mandatory for all passenger car, light commercial vehicle and heavy vehicle tyres, rates fuel efficiency and wet grip on a scale of A-G with A being the highest rating. External rolling noise is measured in decibels.
The aim of the European Tyre Labelling Regulation (EC/1222/2009) is to increase the safety, and the environmental and economic efficiency of road transport by promoting fuel-efficient and safe tyres with low noise levels, according to the European Tyre Manufacturers' Association (ETRMA). The regulation allows end-users to make more informed choices when purchasing tyres by considering this information along with other factors normally considered during the purchasing decision process.
Many tyre manufacturers have already introduced tyre labeling in advance of the legislation. Michelin became the first tyre maker to display tyre label data on its tyres, from 1 June this year. Continental AG followed suit in July with labels for its truck tyres, while Hankook launched an online "tyre label finder" last month allowing EU customers to easily find labels for each its tyres.
Though many manufacturers and tyre dealers were prepared for the legislation, there have been questions about the labels. Some queried the three categories of information on the labels and whether they provided a fair representation of a tyre's performance, while others asked if customers were being made full aware of the legislation in advance of the introduction.
Educating consumers has been a huge task. A survey carried out by independent consumer research organisation Which? in October 2011 found that almost 90 percent of consumers in the UK were unaware of the new legislation. And only half of those aware of the regulation were able to correctly identify the three standards tyres were to be judged by, according to senior researcher David Evans, speaking 15 Feb, at the Tire Technology Expo in Cologne, Germany.
Recently, ETRMA noted that tyre manufacturers and dealers have a responsibility to raise awareness, particularly ensure customers know that actual fuel savings and road safety depend heavily on the behaviour of drivers and not just the tyres and their labels
The association highlighted the following behaviours: eco-driving can significantly reduce fuel consumption, the tyre pressure needs to be correct and regularly checked for optimum fuel efficiency, and stopping distances should always be strictly respected for the best wet grip performance.
The association also advised that customers should be made aware that the three criteria on the labels, although important, are not the only performance parameters. The onus is now upon tyre manufacturers and tyre dealers to offer customers a rounded view of a tyre's performance.
Furthermore, Jorge Crespo, European General Manager for United Arab Emirates-based Infinity Tyres, told a recent ERJ tyre labelling conference that the rules on tyre labelling could be seen as trade protectionism. â€œIt is really just an increased trade barrier [designed] to prevent the growth of economy brands in Europe,â€ he said. However, the tyre executive conceded this was a personal opinion and further agreed that the labelling rules were likely to be beneficial to imported tyre manufacturers.
Tyre labels are also due to be introduced in South Korea in November, though the label covers only two parameters: rolling resistance and wet grip.
For more on tyre labelling and the ERJ Tire Label Legislation & Marketing Conference, held in Oct, see November/December issue of European Rubber Journal
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Tyre labelling info from ETRMA
Tyre labelling info from European Commission