From 1 May, the new EU rules on the energy labelling of on-road tyres apply at consumer level. Updating the label first introduced for car and van tyres in 2012, the new rules require that tyres for buses and lorries must now be labelled – and offer a new pictogram, where relevant, to highlight tyres suitable for use in snow or in extreme, icy conditions.
Ahead of May’s introduction of the new-style European tyre label, Test World has begun ice grip testing for customers at its facility in Ivalo, Northern Finland. The existing 3PMSF ‘snowflake’ symbol indicates that a tyre is suitable for both Central Europe and Nordic countries, but Test World says that, in reality, the technical demands of these two markets are very different. Nordic winter conditions are typically far harsher than in Central Europe, with more snow and ice on the roads.
The European Union has published the new tyre labelling regulation, after it was confirmed by a vote in May. Appearing in the Official Journal of the European Union last Friday, the act will now come into effect as planned on 1 May, 2021.
The European Tyre Manufacturers’ Association has welcomed European Parliament’s vote to revise its Tyre Labelling Regulation. As a result of the update, industry must upload information about around 120,000 different tyres to be placed on the market to the European Product Database for Energy Labelling (EPREL) by 1 May 2021. The addition of this requirement is in line with the re-design of the label itself to conform with other applicable products. The association said this would better inform and further empower tyre buyers, while promoting uptake of tyres with the best safety and environmental performances. It also sounded a note of caution about the timescale for compliance with the update. The EPREL’s tyre application is still in development.
Many international manufacturers view a good EU tyre label result as a benchmark of product performance. At the end of 2018, Prinx Chengshan’s research and development centre in China began work on its ‘AA1’ project, with the aim of developing a product achieving the best label category for wet grip, rolling resistance and noise. The tyre maker reports that it’s achieved its goal.
Goodyear claims that it has achieved an industry first, having developed an all-season tyre with both the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMSF) sidewall marking an A-rated fuel efficiency on the EU tyre label. The new tyre, which Goodyear confirmed to Tyres & Accessories is the third generation of its test-winning Vector 4Seasons line, was conducted jointly by Goodyear’s technology teams in Luxembourg and Germany, in conjunction with original equipment manufacturers, leveraging tread pattern developments present in its all-season lines for the replacement market, as well as new rubber compounding formulations.
Following the news that there will be a new EU tyre label in 2021, the Council of the European Union has announced that it will officially adopt its position relating to the new label on 25 February 2020. In short the new tyre label has been confirmed and will in time be extended to include retreads. At the same time, the rescaling of fuel efficiency and wet grip measures has been halted.
Nokian has welcomed the new EU tyre label. The company says it is especially useful for winter tyre consumers, as the tyre label will now include information concerning grip on snow and ice. So far, markings related to properties required in demanding winter weather have been absent. The purpose of the tyre label is to guide consumers toward tyres that are more fuel-efficient, safer, and quieter. The new label will enter into force in May 2021.
In mid-November, the Green Party in the EU Parliament put out a statement on twitter saying: “tyres release more than 500,000 tonnes of microplastics into the environment?”. Stating that this means it is “time to reinvent the wheel”, the green party added: “Yesterday [13 November] we fought hard and we managed to convince the EU to label tyre abrasion in order to tackle plastic pollution”. With this in mind, Tyres & Accessories asked ETRMA what the pan-European tyre industry is adding to the discussion.
Proposed changes to the EU Tyre Labelling Regulation came a step closer to becoming reality on Wednesday when the European Parliament, Council and Commission reached a political agreement on the matter. The text of the Regulation now awaits formal approval by the European Parliament and the Council. Once both endorse the updated Regulation in the coming months, it will be published in the Official Journal of the Union and will enter into force 20 days after publication. The new Regulation will apply from 1 May 2021.
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 European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers’ Association (ETRMA) is ready to enter the final phase of the review on the 2009 EU Tyre Labelling Regulation, following the outcome of the European Parliament plenary vote to replace the existing regulation. The association said that “an improved Regulation” could be adopted in early 2020, should the new European Parliament move the file into trilogues in the second half of 2019. ETRMA added that it is pleased with the commitment and efforts by the European Institutions to pursue a new Tyre Labelling Regulation, as it “increases consumer awareness of the label and strengthens market surveillance and enforcement in EU Member States.”
The Tyre Industry Federation (TIF) has announced that it understands the Department for Transport (DfT) intends to retain alignment with future evolutions of the EU tyre labelling regulations in the UK, at least as far as the label itself is concerned. The rationale is to ensure a smoothly working market for tyres, the TIF adds.