For the first time in the history of American transportation, the United States plans to ban passenger vehicle tires that are not fuel efficient.
It can be remembered that last December 2015, President Barrack Obama signed into law the Fixing America’s Transportation Act or the FAST Act. Among many things, the bill directs the National Traffic Safety Administration to set minimum standards for tire rolling resistance by the end of 2017, mirroring the 2012 tire regulations adopted by the European Union which sets the limits for tire rolling resistance, traction and noise. The regulation was aimed primarily at reducing aerodynamic drag and other efficiency-sapping friction that consumes a lot of fuel. Michelin noted that most car tires made today account for 25 percent of new car’s fuel consumption. In electrical vehicles, tires drain around 30 percent of battery energy.
In Europe, the regulation paves the way for consumer labels to be attached on tires, scoring a tire’s fuel efficiency and wet traction in a grading scale from A to G along with a three-tiered scale allowable road noise. Tires with rolling resistance greater than 12.1 kilograms are given the score of G, which means that they cannot be sold in the EU. A grade tires on the other means lower rolling resistance, and thus are allowed to enter EU’s consumer market. According to EU’s calculations, the best A-grade tires may reduce fuel consumption by as much as 7.5 percent, saving consumers in the long run.
American drivers and car buyers could be dealing with the new regulations soon, but the federal government is not likely to include noise reduction in the rules. In addition, rated Z tires and higher are not likely to be affect much the FAST Act specifically mandated that any new standard’s will not have disproportionate effect such tires.