Primarily a model designed to help improve awareness of tyre characteristics for passenger car customers, from May 2021 the new EU tyre label must also be applied to heavy-duty commercial vehicle tyres including trucks and buses (Class C3) with all tyre suppliers – including commercial vehicle suppliers - now required to inform buyers of the label values during the sales process.
The updated EU tyre label now rates wet braking distances and fuel efficiency from A to E, with A being the best performing, and ranks external noise of the tyre from A to C, with A the quietest. It also includes winter performance data, via the Three Peak Mountain Snowflake (3PMS) symbol, which determines whether a tyre meets tough snow performance requirements, as stipulated when driving across many European countries during colder seasons.
For C1 and C2 tyres -- for cars and vans respectively -- those previously in class E for fuel efficiency and wet grip will now be assigned to Class D which was previously empty, while those formerly in classes F and G will be assigned to class E. This makes the label clearer and easier to interpret.
Another addition to the EU tyre label is the stipulation that it must include a unique QR code, both on the on actual label and in the tyre manufacturers’ information that links the tyre to the European Product Database for Energy Labelling (EPREL) database, where additional tyre label information can be obtained.
As it stands, the regulation underpinning the new EU tyre labels only applies to new tyres, with new legislation relating to retread tyres expected in 2023.
Importantly for commercial vehicle operators, mileage performance is not yet incorporated into the label, on the basis that suitable test methods are not currently available. The label values are also based on the tyre’s performance when new, and do not take into account the performance characteristics of the tyre across its lifetime.
Tony Stapleton, head of group fleet sales at Continental Tyres, says: “The new EU tyre label is designed to help people choose safer, more fuel-efficient tyres, factors which are vitally important whether you drive a car, a van or are responsible for choosing tyres for a commercial vehicle fleet.
“However commercial vehicle customers should view the labelling as just one part of their discussions with tyre suppliers, to ensure performance factors not included in the labelling, such as the opposing requirements of mileage and durability, are factored into their choice. Most fleets need to make sure their tyres offer a balance between these contrasting drivers, and this will greatly differ fleet to fleet depending on the type of operation and vehicles.
“For example, for construction and waste disposal fleets, tyre durability is critical, with fuel efficiency taking a secondary role, whereas in general haulage such as retail distribution, the fuel efficiency capabilities of a tyre will likely play a far greater role.”
Stapleton adds:“The EU tyre label gives a good indication of a tyre’s minimum level of comparable performance, but commercial fleets are complex and there simply isn’t enough space on the label to include all the factors we consider when selecting tyres. To really understand actual fuel efficiency savings and the benefits this can bring to bottom line costs and reducing CO2 emissions, more detail is required on the specific rolling resistance coefficient of the tyres as these vary within a range for a given EU tyre label value… and most importantly to run monitored field trials on their own fleet.”
“For example, while two tyres may both carry fuel efficiency B rating on the EU tyre label, one could be at the bottom of the range for B and the other close to the top. The gap between these B-rated figures could make big a difference to actual tyre performance. Fuel efficiency must also be considered in terms of where tyres are fitted on the vehicle; steer, drive and trailer tyres impact on the vehicle’s rolling resistance to varying degrees – with trailer tyres accounting for between 50% and 60%.”