Open-access content 13th July 2012
Under a new EU regulation, all new tyres will be labelled with information on three key performance measures. Alastair Lewis discusses the implications for FMs.
19 July 2012
Regulation (EC) No 1222/2009 requires that tyres - on cars, SUVs, vans and trucks - produced after June 2012 and on sale in the EU from 1 November 2012 have information on fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise emissions.
A label with this information must either be applied as a sticker to the tyre or displayed at the point of sale. Tyre manufacturers must also distribute the information in promotional material and on their websites.
With this regulation, drivers (and fleet/facilities managers) EU-wide are being compelled to buy tyres that are safe, fuel-efficient and low noise.
This will cut down on accidents, encourage the tyre market to further improve wet-grip performance and reduce drivers' environmental impact.
The increased use of fuel-efficient tyres is expected to save up to four million tonnes of CO2 per year. Noise pollution will also be substantially reduced.
Some tyres are excluded, such as re-treaded tyres, off-road professional tyres, tyres only fitted to cars registered for the first time before 1 October 1990, T-type temporary-use spare tyres and certain other specialist tyres.
What are the changes?
For fuel efficiency, tyres will be graded from A to G (most efficient to least efficient). Tyres graded A have the lowest rolling resistance, a measure of the amount the tyre deflates while rotating. The lower the deflation, the lower the rolling resistance, the less fuel needed to propel the vehicle, the lower the vehicle's emissions.
From one grade to another is a change in fuel consumption of between 2.5 and 4.5 per cent, which translates into substantial cost savings per year. A car fitted with A-graded tyres consumes around 0.5 litres less per 100km than one with G tyres. For example, on a car that does 10,000 miles per year, at least 80 litres and over £100 can be saved, just by fitting better tyres. The savings available to organisations with large fleets are substantial.
Wet grip, namely how well a tyre brakes in wet conditions, will also be measured using the A to G scale. From one grade to another is a stopping difference of around one to two car lengths when braking at 50mph.
Therefore a car fitted with four A-grade tyres driving at 50 mph will stop around 18 metres before a car with G-grade tyres. This could be the difference between a bump and a major accident.
Fleet managers beware
The implications for fleet managers using tyres at the lower end of the scale are serious. Not only could they be endangering road users and staff drivers, but they could also be jeopardising the organisation's reputation.
Tyre noise - the noise heard outside of the vehicle and not by the driver - will be symbolised by a loud speaker and a three-wave pictogram. One sound wave coming from the speaker indicates a quiet tyre - 3 decibels (dB) less than the future tighter EU limit (tyres will also have to be quieter based on the new standards).
Two sound waves means that the tyre produces an average noise and is already compliant with the future EU limit; three sound waves indicates a noisy tyre, which is compliant only with the current EU limit.
Although 3dB doesn't sound like much on paper, it is double the noise level. Roads with vehicles using tyres that meet the one-wave criteria will therefore be considerably quieter.
How is the facilities manager affected?
The regulation will impact on the buying decisions of facilities managers who have fleet as part of their remit. Fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise emissions will now be considered alongside price and brand name.
Buyers should also bear in mind that the new labelling does not cover everything.
The regulation's aim is to improve safety and reduce CO2 emissions rather than cut costs for drivers, so managers will still need expertise to weigh up other factors such as tyre longevity.
In light of the potential fuel cost savings and the reduction in CO2 emissions, fleet managers with G-grade tyres in their existing fleet may very well consider replacing them - expensive in the short term, but with the potential to make considerable savings.
OCS has recently undertaken a review of its commercial and company car fleet and has already made a cost saving of over £145,620. Over 200 company cars have been replaced with new Volkswagens, and CO2 emissions are averaging 112kg on the new Volkswagens in comparison to 130kg on the old fleet. OCS's 1,600-strong commercial van fleet has also been reviewed and 330 of the oldest vehicles are being replaced by the Volkswagen Caddy, Volkswagen Transporter and Mercedes Sprinter.
They will improve fuel efficiency on average by 35 per cent and reduce carbon output by 857 tonnes per annum this year alone, increasing to 2,500 tonnes when the business replaces the remainder of the fleet. Although this review has not been specific to tyres, it is proof of the savings and the environmental benefits that can be achieved.
Other issues to consider
Businesses might decide to educate drivers about the changes while continuing to promote responsible driving. This might include driving at under the speed limit to reduce fuel consumption and taking into account weather conditions. Drivers and fleet managers should also ensure that tyre pressure is checked regularly and optimised.
If it is too low, tyres wear out faster and consume more fuel.
Alastair Lewis is commercial director of OCS Group UK.
For more information on tyre safety visit www.tyresafe.org
To read Regulation (EC) No 1222/2009 in full visit: