With so many vehicles pounding the roads day after day, new tyres make up a significant proportion of a fleet’s budget.
Look through a price list at the local fast-fit emporium and the cost of different types of tyre can vary enormously.
It might be tempting to always go for the cheapest, but changes in tyre technology mean this could be a false economy. The major manufacturers sink millions of pounds into research and the results could not only keep your drivers safe, but also reduce your fuel bill and reduce your firm’s carbon footprint.
The developments in tyre technology focus around the balance between rolling resistance and grip.
Making tyres has always been a battle between these two things. More of the tyre’s surface on the road means better grip, but more contact with the road means more resistance and more work for the engine. Less contact with the road would mean far less resistance, but the amount of grip from the tyres would be reduced.
Tyre manufacturers were left with a dilemma. They wanted to reduce the rolling resistance, but without customers sliding off the road.
The answer presented itself in the early 1990s, when tyre engineers found that if they used silicon dioxide – known as silica – in the tyre’s rubber compound rather than carbon black, it lowered the rolling resistance of a tyre without adversely affecting grip levels.
Michelin and Continental lead the way in manufacturing these greener tyres, and have since refined the process.
Continental’s flagship eco tyre, the ContiEcoContact 3, promises fuel savings of around 5%, which equates to savings of between £40 and £50 a year.
Michelin’s claims its geen rubber has saved 9.5 billion litres of fuel since 1992 and 23 million tonnes of CO2.
Carmaker Peugeot is fitting its forthcoming 308 with all-new Michelin Energy Saver tyres.
Michelin claims their rolling resistance is 20% less than the market average. That means fuel savings of 0.7mpg and CO2 emissions of almost 4g/km. That would equal a CO2 emissions reduction of a tonne over the life of the vehicle.
The 308 HDi 90 has CO2 emissions below 120g/km – a figure Peugeot says it would struggle to reach without the tyres.
Leasing company Grosvenor recently announced that it would only fit green tyres to its vehicles, and has signed a deal with Michelin and Kwik-Fit Fleet.
“Using quality tyres that do not need replacing as regularly as cheaper versions and by employing a partner that is also dedicated to conserving resources and recycling, means that we are making moves towards greener fleet management,” says Andy Reed, sales director at Grosvenor.
While it may seem that branded tyres are more expensive than some of their rivals, pay close attention to the details of the product – they could save you money in the long run. And with fuel prices as high as they are, anything that improves a vehicles’ economy is worth doing.