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When I read the Detroit News article headlined Michelin responds with 'green' tires for California, an article about Michelin working with and not fighting California over tire regulation I thought, "That's great, a major corporation working with... wait a minute! California actually has a low resistance tire law?" Yes, they do!
In 2003, California signed into law the "World's First Fuel-Efficient Tires Law" and the California Energy Commission had until July 7, 2007 to develop the standards. The law goes into effect in July of 2008. I have to agree with Wired when they say the Commission could have highlighted safety concerns more.

As you can see in the video below, Michelin is big on low-resistance tires and must have seen this as a way to make money but I have to admit: For once, I am little disappointed that a major corporation did not push back a little harder against green regulation. Sure, the law requires labeling and that the market for replacement tires include low-resistance tires. Nothing wrong with more consumer information and greater choice in the market place, right? However, this could be a slippery slope to a CAFE-like law for tires. Readers, am I overreacting or is this a great law?

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[Source: Detroit News, NRDC, Wired]


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  • 14 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Bill in comment #8 your a baboon. Your freedom is a figuritive ideal, never a reality.

      For those that actually care about getting better milage this is a great step towards it. The average Joe now has the option to buy these tires, where as before the option was not availible. LRR tires allows less gas usages and that is what everyone really cares about, leaving more disposable income. How many people you think really cares about how their tire performs on a turn, but shop according to how much it cost.

      I hope the LRR tire gets alot of marketing this time around and be taken on in the masses.
      • 7 Years Ago
      With ABS on most all new cars and trucks there is more science and less skill involved in pushing the brake pedal. If conditions are so bad that I'm worried about enough traction to get to my destination then I can wait.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It might be nice to have the rolling resistance numbers available for comparision. For me the traction and tread life (oh ya the price) is more important than the rolling resistance.
      • 7 Years Ago
      You should check out the Michelin Primacy HP tires. They have both lower rolling resistance AND 2 meter shorter braking distance (on wet surface) AND longer tread life than the original Primacy tire... and this is from independent tests. Other manufacturers could do the same thing if they made the investment in R&D. Continental has only said that lower rolling resistance is unsafe because they haven't developed their technology enough and are countering Michelin's press releases. Just like Toyota and Honda countering GM's Volt by saying series hybrids are less efficient (which is mostly bogus and definitely unproven).

      Rolling resistance and grip are NOT mutually exclusive!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah for California!
      It's very hard to find good data on tire rolling resistance, so this should help us make more informed decisions. It's GREAT for once to see a car related company actually promote fuel saving technology, instead of fighting it.

      How many % of car crashes can you blame on the RR of the tires anyway? Most crashes are due driver error (DUI, tailgating, speeding, sleepiness, cell phones, other distractions etc.) or maintenance neglect issues, like underinflated tires. A small change in tire RR isn't going to make squat of a difference in 99+ % of those avoidable crashes.

      Nobody is forcing YOU to buy the lowest RR tire (despite your conspiracy paranoia about the gov't controlling what you can buy). Besides, I bet today's low RR tires are safer overall than most tire made even 10,20 years ago.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yes we have to defend our freedoms. Freedoms are great as long as they don't cause harm to others. For example, the smoking issue. Sure, all those smokers should have the right to smoke and slowly kill themselves.
      BUT, those smokers were attacking my right to breathe clean air! (and in addition, causing my health insurance costs to go up). I am VERY thankful the gov't is finally stepping in to stop these idiots from also killing me.
      • 7 Years Ago
      LRR tires actually have just as much grip/stopping power as regular tires.
      Look at this extensive report:
      http://www.iea.org/textbase/work/2005/EnerEffTyre/calwell1.pdf
      One study (Slide 20) shows that there is NO correlation between "Traction Composite" and rolling resistance. Another study shows that WET braking distance does NOT depend on RRC. (Slide 26) In fact LRR tires might actually be better).
      • 7 Years Ago
      Oh yeah, and we're going to see low rolling resistance tires ANYWAY, not as another CAFE-like law, but BECAUSE OF CAFE. Moving the average highway MPG of all cars from 25->35MPG is going to take every piece of the puzzle including more efficient engines/transmissions, better aerodynamics, and lower rolling resistance tires.

      Consumer Reports does rate tires for rolling resistance (along with grip so you can find the best combination for your needs), but it would be nice if tires just had standardized labels.

      BTW, I have no special love for Michelin, I was just using them as an example... other manufacturers (Continental, Good Year, etc.) have low rolling resistance tires, but Michelin is one of the first to make it a big R&D area and giving consumers information on the rolling resistance of their tires (it's hard to find this info for other brands).
      • 7 Years Ago
      Cost also has to be balanced -- performance targets are usually easy to hit if you have no cost constraints.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yes, another dumb idea brought to us all by the green weiner crowd. I am looking forward to driving around with tires that won't turn or stop but get 8 ba-jillion miles per gallon. How about we go with a hollow plastic big wheel tire? They would provide low rolling resistance and a noise level capable of irritating the deaf. Like smoking, there is no end to the attacks on our freedom that can be perpetuated in the name of "saving" the environment. I would rather save my freedom.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree - definitely a slippery slope, and one that some bureaucrat has undoubtedly already begun making plans to descend. The unintended consequences of this law will greatly outweigh the benefits. Lower rolling resistance is balanced against things like traction, road noise, ride quality...

      To combat the loss of traction, add section width...mileage drops...(or you can just require your citizens to be involved in more wrecks...)

      To reduce road noise, add additional sound deadening...more weight, mileage drops...

      Soften the suspension to improve ride quality, and handling suffers. Again more accidents.

      It's great to know that California politicians understand the implications of their actions...oh, wait...they don't...that, or they don't care.
      • 7 Years Ago
      A couple of months ago continetal sued the EU becuase the low resistance tires didn't meet the EU braking restrictions for new cars. I'm all for increasing milage in many cases but it comes to a point that it seems to become just dangerous.
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