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New EU Tyre Labelling becomes law
It’s the 1st of November 2012 – which marks the introduction of new European tyre labelling regulations and big changes to the way new tyres are sold across the Continent, including in the UK.
The regulations mean new tyres must be labelled with ratings showing their wet grip, fuel efficiency and noise performance. The labels look similar to those found on many white goods like washing machines and fridges, and are designed to be easy for consumers to interpret. Take a look at our earlier news story for a clear example.
There are seven ratings for fuel efficiency – from A to G – and the same for wet grip. A tyre with the top-rated A label could outperform the lowest ranked G-grade tyre by 30% for safety and 7.5% for fuel efficiency, according to the SMMT.
In other words, a car fitted with A-rated tyres might be able to pull up four car lengths shorter than a car with G-rated tyres in an emergency stop situation – although other variables like the condition of the vehicle involved and the prevailing road conditions still make a big difference to braking performance.
A tyre’s fuel efficiency performance is generally dependent on rolling resistance – the less a tyre deforms on contact with bumps or road imperfections, the more fuel efficient a tyre is – although the downside of picking the most efficient rubber may be a slightly nobbly ride.
Michelin calculates that a car fitted with the least fuel-efficient G-rated tyres would be up to £290 more expensive to fuel over 25,000 miles than if it were fitted with the top-rated tyres. The implication here is that expensive tyres could actually be more economical over time, although one of the best ways to maximise fuel economy is still to ensure tyres are correctly inflated.
Tyre noise is rated slightly differently, using a wave symbol and a decibel rating. A tyre with one wave creates half as much exterior noise as one with two waves, according to the test cycle – which measures dB with the car travelling engine-off at 50mph.
Industry bodies have welcomed the move.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Chief Executive, Paul Everitt:
“There are more than 150 million tyres currently on UK roads, so any information to help motorists understand crucial safety and performance characteristics is valuable, particularly given the safety improvements and fuel efficiency savings that can be gained from choosing the right tyre.”
Most tyre companies are also behind the new system, although some have criticised the labelling for not going far enough:
“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.”
What’s not in doubt is that the gap in performance between some of the budget brands, which can cost as little as £40 per tyre, and the premium brands, can be huge. The new labelling system at least furnishes motorists with some very important and hitherto unknown information before they decide what rubber to fit.
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