Conti Expresses Concerns Over EU Tyre Labelling Plans
Discussions on the EU Commission’s plans to introduce a tyre label continue, and Conti claims that experts are still sceptical about the problems involved. The manufacturer has also voiced its own concerns, highlighting some potential issues that could make it difficult for consumers to understand the label.
The manufacturer notes it already has tyres in its portfolio that easily meet the proposed high threshold values, however Conti says it still recognises a distinct need to clarify what will be implemented in terms of threshold values and certification, and points to a particular need to ensure the label signage contains clear graphics. All suggested designs to date, the company adds, have been hard for the consumer to understand, especially those indicating braking distance on wet roads. Continental comments that this particular graphic is “hardly recognisable as such”. A further Conti concern is that so far no agreement has been reached on a precise and meaningful measuring process for braking characteristics.
The label is intended for use by the tyre industry even before the deadline of November 1, 2012 in order to make motorists aware of products offering low rolling resistance combined with safety. “That would mean the industry had to not only determine precisely and identify the values of each tyre line, but also of each tyre size,” explained Continental press officer Alexander Lührs. Conti believes this effort will, sooner or later, inevitably lead to higher prices.
In order to ensure all manufacturers achieve this involved task in good time, Conti considers it important to first of all decide what the label will eventually look like and how the threshold values should be represented. “The major manufacturers have in some cases over a hundred different sizes of a single tyre line” noted Lührs. Continental states that the suggestion that every tyre should be labelled, including all those held in stock, is something it does not feel is in the interest of the consumer. As Alexander Lührs explains, the German manufacturer is seeking political intervention in its homeland on this point. “We are therefore calling on the German federal government to use its voice in the Council of Ministers to press for the labelling to be displayed in the showroom, rather than on every individual tyre in the warehouse,” he said.
To help motorists appreciate the new label, an online fuel calculator will be made available, permitting consumers to compare individual models. “On many of the products the difference will be marginal” cautioned Lührs. “But the safety requirements made on tyres should not be pushed completely into the background in this context.”
Conti also voices concerns over potential problems with certification and subsequent checks on tyre values. Alexander Lührs fears that “as long as the authorities have no way of checking or imposing sanctions, the whole thing is not as effective as it might sound.” According to Continental, manufacturers of cheaper tyres from East Asia, in particular, already use symbols on their tyres, symbols promising a level of performance that has nothing to do with reality. Therefore, the manufacturer adds, why should things be any different with a tyre label?