Tyre energy labels provide a clear and common classification of tyres performance for rolling resistance, braking on wet surfaces and external noise. The labels help consumers make informed decisions when they are buying tyres as they can easily set their priority choice based on the 3 parameters. At the same time, the labels drive manufacturers to innovate to make their tyres appear in the top classes by being more fuel efficient, safer and quieter.
The energy efficiency class ranges from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). A top class tyre has less rolling resistance and therefore requires less energy to move the vehicle. This translates into lower energy costs (fossil fuels or electricity).
The wet grip class ranges as well from A (shorter braking distance on wet asphalt) to G (longest).
The external noise class ranges from A (less noise outside the vehicle) to B (more noise, with noise levels in the C class not allowed anymore). This noise is different from the “cavity noise”, which is the noise transmitted from the rims to the interior of the car.
Regulation (EC) No 1222/2009 first introduced the obligation of placing car and van tyres on the EU market with a sticker showing the label.
That regulation has been reviewed and will be replaced by Regulation (EU) 2020/740 from 1 May 2021 onwards, when new requirements will start applying. Under the new regulation, bus and truck tyres will also be covered.
Under the new regulation, in addition to the standard label, there are also options for including (next to the noise icon) an icon relating to grip in icy conditions and/or severe snow conditions. This gives consumers 4 label options in total.
Tyres will no longer be allowed in classes F and G for rolling resistance and for wet grip, which is why the new scale has only 5 classes (A to E). The new energy symbols better suggest that the fuel efficiency is applicable to both internal combustion vehicles and to electric ones. In the bottom part, the noise class is always indicated, with the value of external noise level in decibels.
Tyres suitable for severe snow conditions bear the “3 peaks and snow” or “alpine” symbol that is also present on the sidewall of such tyres. Nordic winter tyres for use on iced surfaces will feature a new symbol that represents an ice stalagmite.
Standardised tests are used to assess the performance of tyres in all the 5 parameters indicated in the label. National authorities may check the veracity of the performance levels claimed. The QR code, read with a smartphone or other suitable reader, is intended to provide additional information from a European Commission database.
While there are no ecodesign measures for tyres, Regulation (EC) 661/2009 on general safety of motor vehicles does however set the equivalent minimal requirements of efficiency as ecodesign regulations, but also for safety and health protection.
By choosing a tyre that is in the top class for energy efficiency, and thereby performs the best, energy consumption by 2020 will be up to 45 TWh per year lower than would have been the case without the rules. That is equal to saving roughly 15 million tonnes of C02 emissions per year by 2020.
Thanks to rapid developments in technology, partly driven by the motivation to appear in the top performing classses, the anual savings across the EU resulted in higher savings at roughly 77 Twh. These energy efficiency measures will thus reduce annual CO2 emissions by close to 25 million tonnes by the end of 2020.