Tyre companies have begun the unenviable task of rating and labelling every one of the 35 million tyres sold each year with the standardised criteria used for the new EU tyre labelling scheme, which I first wrote about in July 2011.
The new labels will explain the fuel efficiency, safety and external noise level of every new tyre on sale in the UK.
The scheme, which requires each tyre sold to be rated with a standardised label like that pictured on the right, comes into force in 1st November 2012, after which time it will be a legal requirement for tyre retailers to display the new label on all replacement tyres.
However, labels are expected to begin appearing in tyre retailers much sooner than that, as the industry gradually gears up for the big change. Fuel efficiency (rolling resistance) and safety (wet grip) will be categorised using a seven grade ranking scale, similar to the new car CO2 or fridge efficiency labels.
According to the SMMT, a top-ranked A-grade tyre could out-perform the lowest-ranked G-grade tyre by 30% for safety and 7.5% for fuel efficiency. This translates to a vehicle stopping three to four car lengths shorter from 50mph and a fuel cost saving of around £100 every year for the average motorist.
It remains to be seen how consistently each manufacturer will apply the rating system — tyre manufacturers are currently responsible for rating their own tyres. What’s more, the three criteria chosen — while important — are not the whole story, as tyre manufacturer Continental has pointed out:
“However, the EU label only shows three of more than 14 important tyre performance criteria. Tyre tests from magazines will continue to be the most comprehensive source of information for motorists because they provide complete and independent reports covering nearly all criteria for the most popular tyre sizes.”
I’m not sure whether this new system will be a revolution, but it is a step in the right direction, as it is currently very hard for Britain’s 44 million motorists to perform a meaningful comparison of the tyre choices for their car.
The new rules apply to all car and van (<3.5t) tyres. Here’s what to expect from tyre retailers if you buy new tyres from 1st November 2012 onwards:
- If tyres are visible to the consumer, they must carry a sticker delivered by the manufacturer or have a label print immediately next to the tyre, in a clearly visible position.
- If tyres are not visible to the final consumer, the distributor must provide end users with information on the fuel efficiency class, wet grip class and external rolling noise class and measured value of those tyres.
- Whenever tyres are offered for sale (on-line, phone, written offer, etc), the distributors must provide end users with information on the fuel efficiency class, wet grip class and external rolling noise class and measured value of those tyres before the sale.
- The class information must be integrated on or with the invoices delivered to the end user.
The rules also apply to new cars, so if you are offered a choice of tyre when you buy a new tyre, the information should be readily available.