Members of the European Parliament last week approved regulations that will require replacement tires for cars as well as light- and heavy-duty vehicles (C1, C2, and C3 tires) to carry energy efficiency labels as of 1 November 2012. The new label does not have to be mounted on the tire as long as the seller shows it to the consumer prior to purchase and includes the label with proof of purchase.
The label will follow the familiar “A to G” classification system which is used on European energy labels in a wide range of applications, from appliances to buildings and aircraft. The most efficient tires will be awarded an “A” rating, and member states will only be allowed to legislate purchasing incentives for tires with an energy efficiency rating of “C” or better.
In addition to the tire’s energy efficiency, the label will provide information about its performance in wet conditions, as well as the tire’s rolling noise in decibels. The label will include a “noise pictogram” to graphically indicate the level of external rolling noise, indicated by ascending numbers of black “waves” emitted from a speaker symbol. Automobile tires that produce noise below 68 decibels, for example, will be labeled with one black and two white “waves” next to the value in decibels.
Energy-efficient tires are more commonly referred to as low rolling resistance (LRR) tires in North America. The US Department of Energy maintains a webpage devoted to low rolling resistance tires.
In 2003, the State of California passed Assembly Bill 844, requiring the California Energy Commission, in consultation with the California Integrated Waste Management Board, to adopt and implement a tire energy efficiency program for replacement tires for passenger cars and light-duty trucks. That program is still under development.
A recent cover story in Chemical & Engineering News highlights the efforts of different chemical companies to stretch the “magic triangle of tire technology”—a principle which holds that an improvement to rolling resistance has to come at the expense of wet-road grip and durability.
Alexander H. Tullo, “Stretching Tires’ Magic Triangle”, C&EN 16 November 2009, 87, 46, 10-14