California Proposes new Method to Standardize Testing for Tires

Low rolling resistance tires are just now coming into the spotlight with many manufacturers, most likely due to the steadily increasing averages they are required to meet. One issue with the production of these new tires is the lack of a standardized method of testing and rating them based on how much resistance they produce. A new proposal by the California Energy Commission (CEC)hopes to solve this problem and help consumers move toward the new tires by removing all the guesswork.

The proposal would require that all tires sold in the state of California to be tested; using the same ISO 28580 test protocol for each one, and then compare the results between tires of the same size and maximum load rating. When accomplished, the tire with the lowest Rolling Resistance Force (RRF) would be considered the minimum and anything with 15% of this baseline would fall into the category of "Fuel Efficient Tire."

"A rolling resistance rating system will foster market competition," said one CEC representative. "A ranking system driven by the 'best in class tire' can ignite a competitive spirit."

While this statement is true, the need for additional testing and manpower could easily lead to a price increase for the aforementioned tires. A Rubber Manufactures Association (RMA) spokesperson has already released an estimate of $20 million for all the additional resources needed to accomplish the goals set forth in the proposal.

The RMA presented a "self-certification" methodology, rather than using a national standard, to rate tires between companies. If one manufacturer makes a claim that seems unreliable, then the competing companies would be able to challenge and test the product in question.

On top of the financial dilemma, the RMA was also quick to point out a new regulation that is being developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) that would establish quality control measures to ensure that all tires that are considered low rolling resistance are still 100% safe. When this is finalized, the proposal by the CEC could potentially interfere.

No word on whether or not the CEC is planning on pushing forward with the concept, or the channels through which then will need to route it for approval.