Car fleets unaware of forthcoming tyre labelling laws
With preparations for the implementation of next year’s tyre labelling laws still very much beginning within the industry, how ready are those in one rung down on the supply ladder in the fleet business? If the latest research is anything to go by, they are some way off the pace for November 2012 implementation of the European rules, with varying levels of understanding of what tyre labels mean. In fact a recent Fleet News survey sponsored by Michelin found that over two-thirds (69%) of the 281 fleet operators who responded are unaware of the forthcoming EU tyre labelling regulations. So will the labelling law make any difference to fleet tyre purchasing?
The majority of those questioned didn’t think so, with 42 per cent saying the new labels won’t affect tyre choice. However, a quarter (27%) of respondents said the knowledge provided by the labelling scheme will influence purchasing. 31 per cent were unsure. Interestingly 43 per cent said the decision of which tyre brand to purchase is made by their leasing company. Nevertheless the majority of purchase influencers were at the fleet manager/fleet team level (48%). Only 9 per cent didn’t fall into either of these two categories.
Source: Fleet News
Safety was said to be the most influential factor when purchasing tyres, with 86 per cent of respondents rating this as ‘very important’. More than half (53%) said longevity, which doesn’t show up on the EU label but has been on the sidewalls of US-bound tyres in the form of a tread wear rating for years, was “very important.”
The 2012 tyre label does however show rolling resistance performance, a factor that is directly linked to fuel consumption. The Campaign for Better Tyres, for example, says that the most fuel efficient tyres on the market could save 10 per cent of fuel consumption. However, this doesn’t necessarily equate to 10 per cent saving in fuel spending due to a variety of legal and administrative reasons.
Source: Fleet News
As a result some fleets using Advisory Fuel Rates (standard fuel purchasing and reimbursement rates based on mileage) questioned the financial benefits of fuel efficient tyres. One survey respondent told Fleet World: “Because we use HMRC rates, improved fuel consumption through lower rolling resistance tyres wouldn’t impact our fuel costs.”
Nevertheless the extra cost associated with switching to what are likely to be A grade tyres when the labels are introduced is predicted to be paid back in roughly 6-8 months for cars and 2.5 months for vans, according to the report.
What about leasing companies?
Denis Linehan, operations support manager at LeasePlan (which has three preferred premium brands), was quoted as highlighting the logistical reasons for having a hierarchical purchasing structure: “If we have 20 fleet managers wanting 20 different types of tyre we couldn’t manage the supply chain and the driver experience would be a nightmare.”
Source: Fleet News
The survey also shows that most fleets (89%) do not buy budget tyres. The most popular brands are said to be Michelin, Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, and Goodyear with service and supply dominated by the large national retail chains namely Kwik-Fit and ATS Euromaster. However, following a number of moves within the industry and with the emergence of newer tyres retail/buying groups with their eyes on a share of fleet business this could change over the next 12 months.
Of the 11 per cent who do buy budget tyres, Fleet News reports that they are mainly used on older vehicles or well used vans, with Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions saying budget tyre use in commercial vehicles is “more accepted.”
However after safety, fuel efficiency and price have been considered, fleets apparently aren’t too interested in other performance characteristics. Noise performance is particularly under acknowledged in the sector. According to the Fleet News report, operators who do take note of the labelling are more interested in fuel efficiency and wet grip and “largely ignore the external noise.”