November 2012 will see the Introduction of a standardised tyre label by the European Union. The goal of the EU Tyre Label is to promote low emissions and better road safety, with standardised information focusing on three key criteria: fuel efficiency, wet grip and external rolling noise.

Intended to give consumers essential information to help them when choosing new tyres, the EU Label will be given values from A-G, excluding D to avoid an average performing tyre.

Wet braking will be a crucial element highlighted on the EU Label. Vehicles with tyres from Class A stop in the shortest distance from 50mph, whilst tyres from Class B take an additional 3-6 metres. This trend continues for the subsequent values and results in an increase in braking distance of over 18 metres from a vehicle in Class A to Class F. It is key that this crucial safety value appears on the label to enable the motorist to have a fuller picture of the tyres performance. A label that only highlighted rolling resistance and noise could give a false impression of the tyres performance. For wet braking Categories D and G are not used so any tyre with longer stopping distances in the wet will be rated as E or F.

Rolling resistance of a tyre is a contributory factor when saving fuel, for this reason it features alongside the wet braking value. For example, a tyre from Class C will use 1 litre more fuel than that of a tyre from Class B over a journey of 625 miles. Such values are intended to aid consumers in purchasing tyres for their individual requirements. Another environmental factor, noise level, will also be highlighted on the label showing the actual noise rating in decibels and one, two or three black bars with three being the loudest category. Car tyres must reach the minimum EU noise levels which range from 72 to 76 dB(A) depending on tyre width.

The tyre manufacturer will be obliged to provide a sticker on or with all tyres, which retailers must display in a clearly visible position to the end user. The vehicle manufacturer must also provide label values to consumers in case a choice of different tyres can be made on a new vehicle.

The regulation is intended to help consumers make better decisions when buying tyres but it still only covers three of the performance criteria that a tyre needs. For a more complete picture of how their tyres will perform out on the road, consumers can also refer to independent tyre tests in leading UK magazines which also take into account criteria such as aquaplaning, wet handling and performance on dry roads.

All tyres produced after July 1st 2012 will need to have a label value which must be shown to consumers after November 1st 2012, although tyre manufacturers can begin to label earlier on a voluntary basis. Enforcement will rest with each individual EU member state, with penalties being imposed for infringements. The UK Government is yet to announce who this enforcement body will be.

With a long history as a strong advocate for tyre safety, Continental fully supports this introduction and the standardised information it will provide to consumers. For more information, visit www.eutyrelabel.co.uk.