Future Tyre Labelling Directive 

A proposal for an EU-wide, mandatory tyre-labelling system, part of the EU’s drive to reduce CO2 from transport, is currently before the European Parliament and Member States. The proposal would introduce rules for the labelling of different tyre types according to the parameters of rolling resistance, wet grip and external rolling noise.

Aim of the Proposal

The overall objective of this proposal is to increase the fuel-efficiency of road transport by promoting fuel-efficient tyres. This will be achieved through a harmonised labelling system for tyres for passenger cars (tyre class C1), light duty vehicles (tyre class C2) and heavy duty vehicles (tyre class C3) according to their:
• rolling resistance – fuel used to overcome friction and the loss of energy through the heating and deformation of wheels while rolling.
• external rolling noise – the amount of noise created by wheels while rolling.

Passenger cars (C1) will also be labelled according to their wet grip. This term describes the increased adhesion of tyres on wet surfaces.

The Label

A standardised format for the design of the full colour label and its specifications is the same as that used for household appliances under Directive 1992/75/EC. The label will display the energy efficiency letter grade A to G. This is well known to consumers and it has proven successful in promoting more efficient appliances. An example of the label design is shown below.

Responsibilities of Tyre Suppliers and Distributors

Suppliers will have to:

• adopt the standardised format of labelling provided in the Directive
• ensure all tyres of class C1 and C2 are equipped with a sticker on the tyre tread, displaying a label indicating the fuel efficiency class and the external rolling noise value. Tyre labels must also indicate wet grip class for C1 tyres
• state the fuel efficiency class, wet grip class and external rolling noise value on technical promotional literature
• Suppliers will also have to make technical documentation available to the authorities of Member States on request. This documentation must be sufficiently detailed to allow the information provided on the label to be verified for accuracy.

The proposal explains all the information that has to be shown on a supplier’s website:
• an explanation of the pictograms on the label
• a statement highlighting that fuel savings and road safety are dependent upon driver behaviour. This involves reminders to regularly check the wet grip and fuel efficiency of the tyres they use and to also respect stopping distances.

Tyre distributors must ensure that:

• tyres bear the sticker provided by suppliers in a clearly visible position at the point of sale
• where tyres are not visible for the consumer, for example via mail order or over the Internet, distributors must provide the necessary information for consumers
• fuel efficiency class and external rolling noise value with the bills delivered to the user when they purchase tyres. For C1 tyres the wet grip class must also be provided.

Responsibilities of Car Suppliers and Distributors

Car suppliers and distributors must ensure the following:

• all technical literature provides information on new vehicles tyres of class C1 and C2, indicating the fuel efficiency class and the external rolling noise value. C1 tyres will also require information on the wet grip class
• where different tyres can be fitted to a new vehicle, the lowest fuel efficiency class, wet grip class and highest external rolling noise value of these tyre types must be mentioned in the technical promotional literature
• where consumers are offered a choice between different tyres to be fitted to a new vehicle then the fuel efficiency class, wet grip class and external rolling noise value of these tyres must be mentioned in the technical promotional literature
• where consumers are offered a choice between different tyre types to be fitted to a new vehicle, car distributors shall provide information on fuel efficiency class, wet grip class and external rolling noise value of these tyres before any sale is concluded
The proposal explains all the information that has to be shown on a supplier’s website:
• an explanation of the pictograms on the label
• a statement highlighting that fuel savings and road safety are dependent upon driver behaviour. This involves reminders to regularly check the wet grip and fuel efficiency of the tyres they use and to also respect stopping distances

The Responsibilities of Member States

Member States will ensure that car suppliers and distributors inform end-users of the fuel-efficiency of tyres available through promotional literature. Information has to be easy to read and understand, and, if there are differences in tyre grading for a given tyre type, then the range between the best and least performing tyre has to be indicated.

The Directive will place limitations on Member States by preventing them from restricting the supply of tyres that conform to these standards. The Directive will also prohibit Member States giving incentives for tyres that do not meet the environmental criteria.

Member States will also have to set penalties for infringements. These penalties have to be “effective, dissuasive and proportionate”. The Commission must be informed of these measures 18 months after the adoption of the proposal.

The Role of the Commission

The Commission will also be able to introduce further rules concerning new or existing parameters, such as aquaplaning or handling in curves if technical progress provides reasons to do so and so long as the new parameters affect the environment, health or safety.

The Commission will also review the energy efficiency and wet grip classes if necessary within five years of the Directive coming into force.

Scope of the Proposal

This proposal will also apply to the European Economic Area (EEA).
The Directive will apply to tyres for:
• passenger cars (tyre class C1),
• light duty vehicles (tyre class C2)
• heavy duty vehicles (tyre class C3).
However tyres with the following specifications are excluded from these rules;
• Retreaded tyres
• Off-road professional tyres
• Tyres designed to only be fitted to vehicles that were registered for the first time before 1st October 1990
• T-type temporary-use spare tyres
• Tyres whose speed rating is less than 80 km/h
• Tyres whose nominal rim diameter does not exceed 254mm or is greater than 635mm
• Tyres fitted with additional devices to improve traction, such as studded tyre

What’s next?

This article covers the Commission proposal for a Directive of 13 November 2008. This proposal will now be scrutinised by the European Parliament (first reading) and the Council. The Commission has been very clear that the labelling of tyres should not lead to prices increases.

The measures in the proposal, should they enter into force, will have to be adopted by November 2011 and applied in Member States from November 2012.