Need to know: EU tyre label raises controversy

Date:17 February 2013 Tags:, ,

When driving your car, four bits of rubber as big as the palm of your hand are your only contact with the road, so it’s in your interests to ensure that, at the very least, you get what you are paying for. The EU’s new label aiming to highlight the efficiency and safety credentials of new tyres is intended to help motorists make the right choices, but tyre experts are complaining that the label highlights only a few of a tyre’s performance criteria. One notable omission, says Goodyear, is aquaplaning performance.
Essentially, the EU Tyre Label is designed as a scoring system to drive consumers to buy tyres that are more environmentally friendly and safer. The new label provides important information about safety and environmental aspects of a tyre. Similar to the energy label found on kitchen appliances, the label makes it easy to compare tyre performance in three criteria: wet grip, fuel efficiency and noise. Since 1 November, all passenger, LCV and truck tyres in the EU must be sold with this label information at the point of purchase.

Great idea, says Goodyear, but it doesn’t go far enough.

“The label has a huge potential impact – financially, environmentally and on road safety across Europe,” says Jean-Pierre Jeusette, general director of Goodyear’s Inno-vation Centre in Luxembourg. “Our analysis shows that if all European cars ran on A-graded tyres, it could save up to €27 billion in fuel each year. This could mean a reduction of CO2 emissions by 20 million tons.”

Choosing an A-graded passenger car tyre for wet braking compared with a G-rated one could mean a 30 per cent shorter braking distance on a wet road, he says. That’s the equivalent of stopping up to 18 metres earlier – three to four car lengths.

“However, the label can only serve as a starting point for consumers and fleet managers. They should look beyond the label to other criteria that affect the overall performance of a tyre. To put it into perspective, Goodyear tests over 50 different factors during the development process including a tyre’s handling on dry and wet roads, lateral stability and high-speed stability. Crucially for safety, aquaplaning performance in curves and on straight roads is not reflected by the EU Tyre Label.”

RATINGS

Fuel efficiency. Tyre rolling resistance, rated from A (high-est) to G (lowest).
Wet grip. Braking ability on wet roads, rated from A (high-est) to F (lowest).
Noise. External noise gener-ated by the tyre, in decibels. The black sound waves indicate the noise class of the tyre, from 1 (quiet) to 3 (loud).

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