Tyre labelling scheme is a milestone for the industry
The introduction of tyre labelling in November next year will be a milestone for the tyre industry.
The labels, which will include information on fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise, will enable drivers to make a more informed choice about their tyres and could significantly influence consumer sales trends – especially if the example set by white goods is anything to go by.
Products with less favourable ratings are likely to become less popular over time – both with motorists and distributors.But what does it mean for fleets?
In the first instance, members of Michelin’s Fleet Panel believe more needs to be done to make fleet managers aware of the labels and what they will mean.
Julian Bailey-Watts, technical and development director at Fleet Support Group, said: “I think the tyre labelling concept is great, however, I don’t think the consumer, the driver or the fleet manager has any real understanding of how they might be able to use the labels to their advantage.
“We are talking to our customers about environmental issues, but not one has mentioned tyre labelling. I don’t think it is in the public consciousness yet.”
Panel members suggest that it is only once the regulations come into effect that fleet managers will really start to take heed. They also predict the level of interest and subsequent action will vary depending on the individual who runs the fleet and their company’s policies and ethics.
Steve Chandler, supplier network manager at Lex Autolease, said: “Some of our large corporate customers have good CSR programmes. They will be driven by energy efficiency. We expect them to say to us ‘I want you to guarantee the most fuel efficient tyres’.
“But some will remain very price sensitive and less efficient tyres could be cheaper.
“What we will find as we move forward is that customers become a bit savvier and if they are paying for an energy efficient vehicle they will want a guarantee of energy efficient tyres. For user choosers it will give them a choice.”
He added: “In some cases looking at the tyre label might prove a false economy.
“You could have the quietest tyre and pay a premium for that, but how long does it last? Does the price correspond to how long they last?
“There is also the practicality of it. Tyres are not like white goods in that people will notwalk down the racks of tyreslooking at the labels. The labels will not be as obvious.
“In a lot of cases the information they get will be from the person in the tyre centre, so in practical terms I wonder how evident tyre labels will be to customers.
“I think this could largely be driven by tyre sellers.”
Ultimately, Fleet Panel members believe the significance of tyre labelling will depend on the information that they reveal.
Mark Connor, head of operations at Zenith Vehicle Solutions, said: “It will all depend on how the different tyres compare, and we won’t know that until we see the labels next year.
“If the scores are very different that might drive a different buying behaviour from leasing companies and customers. That might affect the brands they fit.
“But if it meant there wasn’t a huge amount of difference between premium and budget tyres it might drive up the sales of budget tyres.
“I think individual drivers will still buy the cheapest. Tyres will still be a distress purchase. It is more likely on fleets that people will buy what is perceived to be a better tyre, but there will need to be a big enough gap to justify paying the premium.”