As the popularity of quiet electric cars increases, so has the focus on tyre noise. European tyre labelling has raised consumer awareness of pass-by noise, but it would be a mistake to assume that pass-by noise is the only noise category. Recently, Nokian Tyres has sought to highlight how it considers noise aspects in tyre research and development as well as testing.
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.
On 1 May 2021 new tyre labelling rules take effect across Europe. Now, the Tyre Industry Federation (TIF – the umbrella body for UK tyre associations BTMA, ITMA and NTDA) has published details of its proactive response to the rules and specifically to their implementation in the post-Brexit environment. In short, cross-industry cooperation means the latest information will be available for the market from 1 May. The UK government Department for Transport (DfT) has welcomed the tyre industry’s approach to the implementation of the new tyre labelling regulations since the solution allows the continued flow of labelling information to consumers despite initial regulatory differences between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Pirelli’s “power is nothing without control” strapline is well-known and apt. But, as we move further into the era of electric vehicles, should we be thinking: speed-ratings mean nothing without considering torque? In July 2003 my predecessor Peter Gardner published “Let’s torque speed ratings”, an editorial article that followed suggestions from within the tyre business that we reconsider what we mean by those letter values so-often tagged onto the end of tyre sizes. The discussion was specifically prompted by Stephen Marsh (then of Stapleton’s Tyre Services) who made the point that the power transference properites of millennial engines is as important as the absolute speed capability of tyres. In other words, when recommending products, the tyre business should be just as concerned about a vehicle’s torque demands as its top-speed capability.
Test World has converted its ‘Indoor 3’ facility to pure ice, adding to the site’s capacity for indoor ice testing. With updates to the EU Tyre Label and the new ‘Ice Mark’ due next year, Test World has noted a significant increase in enquiries related to ice testing at the Ivalo-based tyre testing facility. Indoor 3 builds on Test World’s existing indoor ice offering, giving its customers unrivalled access to accurate and reliable tyre testing all year round.
The British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association has welcomed new legislation to enforce the tyre labelling regulation from 1 January using civil sanctions. The Department for Transport (DfT) appointed the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) Compliance Unit as enforcement authority earlier in 2020, replacing the National Measurement Office. To date, the DfT has conducted 68 “mystery shopper” visits, finding 78 per cent of tyre retailers were not compliant with the requirement to provide the labelling information.
On 7 August the government shared some results from its recent type approval consultation. That four-week consultation period came to an end on 26 June 2020 and sought views from across the automotive industry relating to what statutory instrument should supersede European type approval Regulation (EU) 2018/858, which covers new vehicle safety. The result? Low performing car tyres and van tyres will be illegal from 1 May 2021. The government type approval consultation supports 30-month grace period for running down such stocks. And OBD ports will remain open for independent garages to access repair and maintenance information.
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.
Following the news that new European tyre labels come into force on 1 May 2021, the UK government embarked on an “Improving new vehicle safety and environmental compliance plus passenger vehicle digital radio requirement” consultation on 1 June 2020.
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.
On 29 April, the European Parliament announced that new tyre labelling rules have moved a step closer to implementation. The European Parliament and the Council of EU reached an informal agreement on the labelling scheme in November 2019. The Council formally endorsed the rules in February 2020 and Parliament’s industry, research and energy committee voted in favour of them on 28 April 2020. The Parliament as a whole must now approve the deal in order for the new labels to be rolled out.
Having hinted at its impending introduction in February, Goodyear has launched the Vector 4Seasons Gen-3. The most recent instalment in its award-winning range of all-season tyres, Goodyear’s latest generation tyre is designed to provide “improved snow, wet and dry performance”.
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.