Tyre-rating labels to make choice clearer for consumers
CHOOSING new tyres for your car should become a lot more straightforward from November thanks to a new EU labelling system.
All dealers will have to display a sticker which rates a tyre under three key headings: fuel efficiency (rolling resistance), safe braking (wet grip) and exterior noise levels. It will either be on the tyre or beside it.
The labels, which must go on display in showrooms from November 1, will be similar to those now-familiar stickers which show energy ratings for electronic goods like fridges and cookers.
Under the wet-grip heading, performance will be graded from A to G, although initially D and G will not be used.
According to leading German manufacturer Continental, the stopping distance between a class-A tyre and a class-F version can be as much as 18 metres.
While safety will always be hugely important when picking a new tyre, a product with a high fuel-efficiency rating will be attractive at a time when petrol prices are rocketing.
The fuel-efficiency rating will go from A (low consumption) to G, though D is not used.
From A to G, fuel consumption will increase by between 0.42 to 0.56mpg, based on a car which does 36mpg. About 20pc of fuel consumption is caused by tyres, so manufacturers are constantly striving to reduce rolling resistance by using new compounds.
A 10pc cut in rolling resistance translates into a 1.6pc saving on fuel consumption. Reducing rolling resistance also helps cut CO2 emissions.
With the era of €2-a-litre petrol edging closer, the new label will obviously be hugely influential when it comes to choosing a new tyre.
But makers must produce tyres which balance safety with efficiency.
Continental's new ContiPremiumContact5, launched in Barcelona last week, is set to have an A-class rating for wet grip and a C for fuel efficiency.
The third item on the sticker will measure the decibels generated by the tyre.
It will be accompanied by one, two or three sound waves. One wave will indicate the noise level is at least three dB below the future legal limit, which will be introduced by 2016.
The aim is to reduce overall traffic noise, though it's unlikely this will sway consumers much when mulling over the merits of wet grip versus fuel efficiency.
All of the leading tyre manufacturers have welcomed the new EU standard label, though some have expressed concerns that it will not be implemented properly across all 27 member states.
In some jurisdictions it remains unclear which body has responsibility for ensuring compliance with the new system.
Information on the labels will be provided by manufacturers, so independent tests conducted by motoring magazines will remain an important reference.