• New EU laws stipulate clearer labelling for tyres
• Tyres are assessed across three areas of tyre performance
• Potential for significant cost and environmental savings

New legislation about the labelling of tyres was initiated this month, with all manufacturers having to label their products using a ‘traffic light’ system which rates the tyre for its performance over three parameters: wet braking, rolling resistance and exterior noise. Each criteria is measured over seven degrees of performance, ranging from a Green ‘A’ for excellent, to a Red ‘G’ for poor performance. It is now mandatory for all customers to be given this information at the point of purchase.

Goodyear has welcomed the move, with Jean-Pierre Jeusette, the manufacturer’s director of its Luxembourg Innovation centre saying: “The label has a huge potential impact – financially, environmentally and on road safety across Europe. Our analysis shows that if all European vehicles ran on A-graded tyres, it would save €84 billion in fuel and reduce CO2 emissions by 20 million tons.

Choosing an A-graded passenger car tyre for wet braking compared to a G-rated one could mean a 30% shorter braking distance on a wet road – stopping up to 18 meters earlier.”

There are fears, however, that the new legislation does not cover enough areas of tyre performance and leaves consumers in the dark about other aspects of the product’s performance. Michael Staude, product line manager – tyres & wheels at TÜV SÜD Automotive, comments: “The EU Tyre Label is a bit like a candle; it sheds a little light on the factors that affect tyre performance, but it doesn’t compare to using a torch. Many specific performance aspects are simply not reflected by the information displayed on the label. Winter tyres are a very good example. It is a limitation that purchasers need to be aware of. You need to ask further questions of your tyre dealer and not expect the label to tell you everything you need to know.”

Raising awareness about how tyres can affect your car has long been a priority of the EU, and this marks a step forward but customers are still advised to ask plenty of questions about the tyre they are thinking of buying – remember, they are not just black and round.

By James Richardson