Low carbon tyres
The EU has come up with some legislation that’s actually useful. The European Regulation 1222/09 on the labelling of tyres with respect to fuel efficiency and other essential parameters, which came into effect in November, introduces a mandatory labelling system for tyres sold within the EU (see The next step). The aim is to help consumers to identify the “greenest” option for their vehicles.
Across the board
Unlike many green schemes, the parameters are regulated, which means that you can rely on the ratings to be an accurate reflection of how efficient the tyre is.
How does it work?
It follows the same principles as other energy label schemes, for example that for electrical products such as fridges and freezers. There’s a sliding scale of ratings - “A” being the best, “G” being the worst. The rating is based on rolling resistance (RR), the stopping distance in the wet, and noise.
Note. The RR is the resistance between the tyre and the road surface. It can be affected by the material of the tyre and the design of the tread.
Tip. It’s definitely worth taking note of this because around 20%-30% of an average car’s fuel consumption is down to the RR. So if you choose a tyre with a better rating, real fuel savings are available.
According to the AA, the difference between the best and the worst can be as much as 7.5% for an average car. However, according to the “Better Tyres” campaign their research has identified that there’s a 10% fuel consumption difference between the best and worst performing tyres.
What’s the cost?
Naturally, tyres with a better rating will come at a premium - between £15 and £40 per tyre generally. However, this will be paid back in fuel savings. How quickly depends on a number of factors (the car, mileage, driving style, etc.). The most detailed research has been undertaken by a university in Germany, which demonstrated that changing tyres could save around £200 per year in petrol costs and 350kg of CO2 emissions (based on an average mileage of 10,000 miles at 35mpg and fuel cost of £1.30). Unfortunately, it doesn’t say what “grade” the original tyres were and what the new ones are.
Should you change?
Tip 1. Although savings are available, it’s not worth ditching perfectly good tyres for those with a better rating. So go for more efficient ones only when your existing tyres are worn out.
Tip 2. You have to change all four tyres to achieve the real savings. Changing the odd one will not lead to any significant improvements in fuel efficiency etc.