Very soon now, all businesses advertising and supplying new tyres will have to comply with new EU-wide labelling rules. Noise, grip and fuel efficiency information will be compulsory from 1 November 2012. Rosanna Foster treads the new line.
Who: European Commission
Where: Across the European Union
When: 1 July 2012
Law stated as at: 4 October 2012
The new EU legislation on tyre labelling ultimately aims to increase the safety and environmental and economic efficiency of road travel. European Union Regulation 523/2012 (the "Regulation") applies to the supply of new car, 4×4, van and truck tyres with rim sizes greater than 254mm and less than 635mm. Manufacturers and importers must ensure that any such tyres manufactured from 1 July 2012 are labelled with performance information if they are to be supplied in the EU.
From 1 November 2012 all tyres on sale in the EU must be accompanied by prescribed performance information, so retailers as well as manufacturers and importers must be aware of the changes.
There are exclusions form the Regulation for a number of tyre classes including retreaded tyres, tyres for pre-1990 vehicles, temporary use spare tyres and racing tyres.
What the labels must include
Labels must include information on rolling resistance, wet grip and external noise, which will indicate to consumers how fuel efficient, safe and loud they are, helping them to make more informed decisions.
The format of the labels will be similar to the familiar colour-coded stickers used to indicate the efficiency of goods such as washing machines, dishwashers and fridges. The colour and design of the information label cannot be changed. The minimum size of the label is 7.5cm by 11cm. The information is provided through a grading system: fuel efficiency and wet grip will be rated on a sliding scale from A to G, with A being the best and G the worst. External noise will be measured in decibels and put into one of three classes which indicate whether the noise level meets limits currently in force, meets limits due to come into force in November 2016, or exceeds these future limits.
Additional responsibilities for manufacturers and retailers
In addition to ensuring a suitable label is affixed to products manufactured after 1 July 2012:
- Suppliers must make the required information available in technical promotional literature, including on their websites;
- Retailers must ensure that consumers either view a sticker or label before completing any sale or if the product is not visible, must provide the required information during the sale process. and must also give the information on or with the bill; and
- Vehicles sellers must provide labelling information before completing a sale where the consumer is offered a choice of tyres.
Only tyres produced before 1 July 2012 can be sold without labelling information after 1 November 2012.
Why this matters:
It is thought that cumulative benefits from the increased use of fuel efficient tyres will lead to saving up to 4 million tonnes of CO2 per year (depending on the speed of market transformation towards fuel efficient tyres).
However, as well as the environmental benefits, it is hoped that the implementation of the Regulation will cause manufacturers to improve their products in order to gain better ratings. Some manufacturers' websites are providing the required information in interesting ways, so already consumers are being offered more value. Perhaps this might be indicative of what lies ahead in other markets should labelling requirements be made more demanding.