Fleet managers may adopt a new approach to tyre management with the forthcoming introduction of tyre labelling bringing greater transparency to the market, according to Kwik-Fit Fleet.
All new car, van and truck tyres on sale in Europe from November 1, 2012 - and manufactured from July 1, 2012 - will be classified and labelled for fuel efficiency, wet grip and external rolling noise performance.
The European Union regulation is designed to make fleet operators, company car and commercial vehicle drivers as well as private drivers aware of the individual performance characteristics of every new tyre on sale.
The tyre market is split into three levels of tyre - premium, mid and budget - with a myriad of tyres in each segment.
Additionally, tyre manufacturers are introducing a plethora of new tyres in the run-up to the introduction of the initiative to ensure they are optimising tyre performance and score highly against labelling criteria. By contrast budget tyres that perform poorly in tests could be removed from sale.
Typically fleets replace tyres on a ‘like-for-like’ basis throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle. However, Kwik-Fit Fleet sales director Peter Lambert believes that policy could change with the introduction of tyre labelling.
He explained: “Fleet managers generally have great knowledge and understanding of tyres but that is typically associated with the premium sector.
“Tyre quality is very subjective and for the first time the labelling regime will bring a degree of transparency to tyre performance, although only three selection criteria out of many are being measured.
“Fleet managers will be able to use tyre labelling to compare and contrast the performance of premium tyres from the likes of Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Goodyear, Hankook, Michelin and Pirelli with those from mid and budget brands. We may well be surprised by some of the performance test results.
“As a consequence we could see fleet operators deciding to fit tyres on a ‘like-for-like’ basis when they know that the vehicle will remain on the fleet for the life-time of the premium tyre.
“However, as vehicles move closer to defleet, fleet operators may opt for a cheaper mid-range tyre that performs well according to labelling criteria, fits their purpose and in terms of longevity will out-last the vehicle’s fleet life.
“Consequently, in an economic environment when vehicle operating costs are under the microscope the new tyre labelling system may help fleets to save money.”