EU Tire Labelling
Consumers will see new labels on tyres advising them of environmental credentials since July 2012. This new information will be presented on the receipt of the newly purchased tyres and may also appear on the tyres themselves. The three areas rated on the labels are fuel efficiency (measured as rolling resistance), external noise (measured in decibels) and wet braking (stopping distance for safety).
The layout of the label will be similar to the energy efficiency labels on white goods, such as refrigerators or washing machines; with seven grades from A to G (Grades D and G are not used for passenger cars). The top tyres will score A ratings in each of the top two panels for fuel efficiency and wet braking. F and G ratings indicate inferior performance.
The bottom panel relates to noise. A single black mark and a low number shows low noise pollution, but three black marks and a high number mean high noise pollution.
Rolling resistance is when tyres reshape to absorb road surface irregularities such as dips, potholes and stones. Low rolling resistance tyres require less fuel to propel vehicles – leading to lower petrol costs and fewer emissions for motorists.
Wet grip is a crucial safety feature for the motorist’s tyre choice. The grades used for this test are A to G, with D and G excluded to show greater differences. The difference between each grade means an increase or decrease in stopping distance of between one to two car lengths (between 3 and 6m) when using maximum braking from 50mph against a reference tyre.
The balance between safety and economy is very important because excellent performance in one area is likely to have a detrimental impact on the other. A tyre with little rolling resistance will lack in grip. But a tyre with a strong grip and high rolling resistance will be quite inefficient.
This is the external noise made by the tyre, measured in decibels. When consumers are looking for green tyres with minimal noise, they should look for a single black bar and a low decibel figure on the label.
The new EU tyre labelling is provided as a useful guideline for consumers. The information it provides should be considered alongside the test of a reliable car specialist and advice from tyre retailers. Many other factors can affect a tyre’s road performance such as high speeds, wet and dry braking performance and wear. A tyre retailer can advise consumers on these factors before a purchase is made.