Hilton Head Island, South Carolina — Federal performance standards for tire rolling resistance and wet traction are a necessity for the US, said top officials of both Michelin North America Inc. and the Rubber Manufacturers Association 16 April at the Clemson University Tire Industry Conference in Hilton Head.
“America needs a rolling resistance and wet grip standard,” Pete Selleck, Michelin North America president, said in his keynote speech at the conference.
The benefits of such performance rules would be manifold, according to Selleck. They would enhance consumer safety; improve vehicle fuel efficiency; encourage innovative research and development; and, above all, bring the U.S. in line with the European Union and other developed tire markets, he said.
“Imports to Europe of low-tech tires dropped off drastically in 2012, when the European Union introduced its rolling resistance and wet grip standards,” Selleck said. “Guess where those tires are going now?”
The RMA has developed baseline proposals for rolling resistance and wet traction performance, according to Tracey Norberg, RMA senior vice president and corporate counsel. The association has presented these proposals to Congress, she said.
“A rolling resistance standard needs to be coupled with a minimum performance standard for wet traction,” Norberg said. About 15 percent of the tires currently sold in the US would not meet the proposed RMA standards, she said.
The rolling resistance and wet traction standards are separate from the pending tire labeling and consumer education provisions of the tire fuel efficiency final rule issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in March 2010.
The proposed labels will contain ratings for rolling resistance, traction and treadwear. The latest word from NHTSA, Norberg said, is that the agency will issue a proposal for tire labelling and consumer education by 30 Nov 2015, with comments due by 31 Jan 2016.