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Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Tyres to get tags based on fuel efficiency

A high-level government panel comprising officials from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), ministry of road transport and highways and automobile testing agencies are exploring the initiative

NEW DELHI : India plans to label tyres as per their fuel efficiency and rolling resistance in a wider effort to empower consumers and allow them to take informed decisions about their purchases.

A high-level government panel comprising officials from the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), ministry of road transport and highways and automobile testing agencies are exploring the initiative, a government official said on condition of anonymity.

“It is a work in progress at the moment. If labelling has to start for a huge range and capacity of tyres, we need to identify common parameters that will be tested to assign a particular label. In this case, it is wet grip and rolling resistance," the official said.

Once the rules are implemented, tyres will have ratings based on its rolling resistance—a parameter indicating fuel consumption—and wet grip—a crucial safety feature indicating a tyre’s braking ability on a wet road.

The (government) official however said the government is looking at ways to deal with the challenge that India doesn’t have enough testing facilities, which is crucial before labelling starts.

“The question is whether there are testing facilities or not as it is important to have a system in place. As far as wet grip is concerned—crucial for the entire process of tyre labelling—this facility is available only with ICAT Manesar but it is not for public use at the moment. Even in Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), it is still in process," the official told Mint, requesting anonymity.

An tyre industry executive said with labelling, buyers can easily get an idea of what kind of tyre they are looking for. “While tyres with less rolling resistance can add to fuel efficiency, they may be bought by truck owners. Tyres with wet grip may offer more safety," the executive said.

The executive added that since customers do not have the option of selecting tyres while buying a new vehicle it comes factory fitted, tyre labelling will play out in the aftermarket or replacement market which is larger than the new vehicle market.

Currently, the European Union and countries such as Japan and South Korea have labelling programmes for tyres. In the last few years, India has taken several steps to promote efficient use of fuel in the transport sector, with the most recent being rolling out of Bharat Stage VI vehicles and a push towards adoption of electric mobility.

An expert, however, said the process of labelling of tyres comes with its own set of complications for a country like India.

“Fuel efficiency of a vehicle is dependent factors like engine efficiency, transmission design, aerodynamic drag, weight, components, type of fuel, driving technique, AC usage, terrain, road condition, turns, wind, maintenance etc. and tyres form the last in this list. We also do not have testing facilities for rolling resistance combined with wet grip nor are the road ambient conditions like as in Europe," Rameesh Kailasam, chief executive of think tank India Tech said.

“India has 41 tyre companies and 62 plants producing the largest variety of tyres in the world including bias and radial tyres. India’s defence, agriculture, mining and 70% truckers use bias technology as it suits them most. Even if the government goes ahead with labelling there should be separate standards for bias and radial as these are 2 different technologies with different utilities," Kailasam said.

Amit Panday contributed to the story.

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