November 2012 will see the Introduction of a standardised tyre label by the European Union. The goal of the EU Tyre Label is to promote low emissions and better road safety.
The standardised information focuses on three key criteria: fuel efficiency, wet grip and external rolling noise.Currently the only way consumers can compare tyres is by reading tests in consumer and motoring publications.
The new ratings will give consumers essential information to help them get a fuller picture of how different tyres perform in different conditions. The EU Label will give values from A-G, excluding D to avoid an average performing tyre.
Wet braking will be a crucial element highlighted on the EU Label. Vehicles with tyres from Class A stop in the shortest distance from 50mph, whilst tyres from Class B take an additional 3-6 metres. This trend continues for the subsequent values and results in an increase in braking distance of over 18 metres from a vehicle in Class A to Class F. For wet braking Categories D and G are not used so any tyre with longer stopping distances in the wet will be rated as E or F.
Rolling resistance of a tyre is a contributory factor when saving fuel, for this reason it features alongside the wet braking value. For example, a tyre from Class C will use 1 litre more fuel than that of a tyre from Class B over a journey of 625 miles.
Another environmental factor, noise level, will also be highlighted on the label showing the actual noise rating in decibels and one, two or three black bars with three being the loudest category. Car tyres must reach the minimum EU noise levels which range from 72 to 76 dB(A) depending on tyre width.
The regulation is intended to help consumers make better decisions when buying tyres but it still only covers three of the performance criteria that a tyre needs. For a more complete picture of how their tyres will perform out on the road, consumers can also refer to independent tyre tests in leading UK magazines which also take into account criteria such as aquaplaning, wet handling and performance on dry roads.
All tyres produced after July 1st 2012 will need to have a label value which must be shown to consumers after November 1st 2012, although tyre manufacturers can begin to label earlier on a voluntary basis. Enforcement will rest with each individual EU member state, with penalties being imposed for infringements. The UK Government is yet to announce who this enforcement body will be.
Motoring groups have praised the forthcoming regulations, which will allow motorists to more easily make an informed choice, rather than just be influenced by price and brand.
“It’s a good starting point that can be developed in the future,” said a spokeswoman for the AA. “People should be more aware of their tyres. When buying, most simply go with the cheapest option.”
The new ratings will also serve to force Far Eastern firms to improve their quality, which currently fall short of more established brands.