Following reports at the end of June that the UK government is consulting on current and forthcoming tyre legislation, it is worth taking a closer look and clarifying exactly what rules are passing through the labyrinths of legislative bureaucracy. In short, there are three strands of UK tyre legislation on the table at the moment: minimum standards legislation; current tyre labelling legislation; and forthcoming tyre labelling legislation. Taken together they will likely bring with them the largely unannounced consequence of having both old and new tyre labels in the market at the same time, for a while at least.
The debate over how much tread depth is sufficient and recommendable has been going on for years. While some tyre makers and motoring groups support changing the legal minimum tread depth to 3mm as a move towards greater peace of mind, Michelin has been a vocal advocate of not only keeping 1.6mm the legal minimum but of actually using tyres right down to this tread depth. It is also one of a growing number of parties calling for legislation that informs consumers how tyres perform when worn. Earlier this month, Michelin shared the latest developments in the quest for ‘Long Lasting Performance’.
The government has published its future transport strategy. After highlighting mobility trends towards increased take-up of electric vehicles, increased amounts of vehicle connectivity and increased ecological consciousness, the strategy focuses on four “next steps”: Implementing a flexible regulatory framework, Supporting industry and local leaders, Ensuring government decision-making is robust; and continuing established technology-specific plans. In other words its about electric mobility, data connectivity and better environmental performance.
On 4 March 2019 the European Union adopted its negotiating position on the introduction of the next phase of its European Tyre Labelling legislation. In short, the EU is updating its rules in order to add information on snow and ice grip and raise the prominence of labels for consumers. At the same time there are plans to broaden the scope of tyre labelling to include wear/mileage performance once suitable testing methods have been found.
Following strenuous campaigning from the industry, Tyred and Frances Molloy in particular, the government announced on 26 February that it will consult on “options to ban older tyres from use on buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles and mini-buses to help keep road users safe”. The Department for Transport explained that the proposed legislation will make it illegal for these vehicles to run with a tyre aged 10 years or over.
If the UK plans to leave the European Union without a deal covering driving licences, UK licence holders living in the EU or EEA will have to exchange their UK driving licence for a local EU driving licence before 29 March 2019. If they don’t, after that point they may have to pass a driving test in the EU country they live in in order to be able to carry on driving there.
This section is entitled “TPMS and sensor technology” for a reason. No longer are in-tyre sensors about measuring temperature alone. Now TPMS basically means pressure and temperature, often with the addition of algorithmically generated road feedback, load information and even wear calculations. These “big data” contributions are routinely relayed to the cloud for analysis. At the same time external tread readers are measuring similarly important data and sending that to the cloud. Put all this together and we have what Pirelli calls this the “sensorisation” of the tyre business. Whatever we call it, this part of the business now about far more than just sensing tyre pressures. As far as uptake is concerned, legislation and technical innovation are the key driving forces.
The subject of tyre and road wear particles (TRWP) was also broached at the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers’ Association’s (ETRMA) Board of Directors meeting. The Board stressed the importance of political debate – both on this issue and about the wider topic of sustainable mobility – adopting a strong scientific approach, based on facts and solid knowledge. Franco Annunziato, president of the ETRMA, called attention to the “value of having law-making, guided by robust science and based on evidences, as the only way to achieve the legislators’ targets.”
We’ve all heard of humourous laws, relics of bygone days – the fact that it is illegal for MPs to wear armour in parliament and for anyone to handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances immediately spring to mind. But did you know that there are a fair few bizarre motoring laws in different countries around the world?
On 6 June Continental announced that it will prohibit the use of WhatsApp and Snapchat on company-owned mobile phones due to GDPR compliance concerns. The measure applies to all of Continental’s global locations and affects more than 36,000 mobile phones.
A year after the UK government began a consultation period on the question of whether or not to extend the period of the first MOT for cars and motorcycles from three years to four years, Jesse Norman MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Roads, Local Transport and Devolution has announced that the government is keeping the three-year first MOT policy we currently have:
At the start of August the National Tyre Distributors Association (NTDA) started an online petition calling for a complete ban on the sale of part-worn tyres. The move follows inspections carried out over several years into the sale of part-worn tyres, which show serious safety breaches are common.
With a headline like that, you could be forgiven for thinking that this month’s column refers to the ongoing geopolitical sabre rattling taking place between China’s North Korean neighbours and the USA. However, as important as the hint of nuclear escalation is, here we focus on how the overheating Chinese tyre market is as close as it has ever been to boiling over. Two key subjects have raised the temperature in the People’s Republic during the last month or so: The European Commission’s (EC) decision to initiate an anti-dumping investigation against Chinese-produced truck and bus tyres; and the even more imminent effects of local environmental emissions investigations within China itself, which have led to the suspension and even closure of numerous businesses in the country (see below).