Bloomberg reports the European Union is set to require tire manufacturers to include new labels detailing everything from the rubber's wet-traction performance to fuel efficiency and noise levels. Each tire will receive a rating on an A-to-G scale for wet traction and fuel efficiency, wherein A is the highest score possible. Information on the tire's noise level, meanwhile, will be conveyed in decibels.
So, why the big push for more sidewall information? Tire manufacturers in the EU are being hit on two sides; economic woes hurting the bottom line, while inexpensive Chinese tires lure buyers away from more common brands. Last year saw Chinese, Korean and other non-European brand market share jump to 23 percent, a new record.
Manufacturers like Pirelli and Michelin are looking for ways to indicate how their products are superior, and the new labels may do just that. But the labels may have another unintended effect by stepping up competition in a big way. All tire manufacturers will be forced to justify their price tags as consumers begin to more easily compare and contrast their options.
Meanwhile, US regulators are set to issue a new rule in 2013, requiring all tires to carry ratings for fuel efficiency, wet traction and treadwear. Don't expect the EU and US systems to dovetail, however.