Smithers Rapra, part of the Akron-based Smithers Group, has been selected by NHTSA as the National Tire Alignment Laboratory for the Tire Fuel Efficiency Consumer Information Program.
Under Congressional mandate, NHTSA was supposed to establish TFECIP to educate consumers about tire fuel efficiency, safety and durability, and part of that program is a rating system and labelling for replacement tires. For fuel efficiency, TFECIP rates each tire’s rolling resistance.
In March 2010, NHTSA specified ISO 28580 as the test procedure to be used in rating tires for TFECIP. ISO 28580 requires the establishment of a reference laboratory and a reference test machine for quality control.
Smithers said its lab and rolling resistance machine will be used to “align” data from different testing labs and equipment that is submitted to NHTSA for TFECIP ratings to Smithers’ data, using batches of pre-defined tires.
Smithers’ contract with NHTSA is for two years, with optional one-year extensions for three additional years. Smithers is required to make monthly reports to the government.
Meanwhile, NHTSA has still not finalized the entire tire fuel efficiency testing and education regulations. A component regarding consumer education remains unsettled, and the process requires final approval within the agency before ratings will be available for replacement tires.