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One Year Later, Are Tire Labels Having Intended Effect in EU?

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A year on from the introduction of European tire labeling legislation, the longest term data available assessing its impact suggests it is increasingly influence consumer purchasing choices.

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According to research carried out by Ipsos MarketQuest across six European markets on behalf of Goodyear Dunlop, 54% of consumers are aware of tire labeling. However, what is perhaps more significant is that about three quarters (71%) say that it has influenced their purchasing decision saying they, “utilized its gradings on three performance criteria before making their purchase.”

The research was conducted by MarketQuest in June and July 2013 among 4,200 consumers from U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland, who had bought tires over the past six months.

The details were released at a roundtable debate hosted by Goodyear Dunlop and bringing together stakeholders and industry experts to discuss the progress of the label. Speaking at the event, Goodyear EMEA president Arthur de Bok presented the first significant statistical insights on the label’s influence and highlighted the limits of the tire label.

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He said: “It is encouraging to see so many consumers and professional tire purchasers using the EU tire label as a reference point when purchasing tires. The EU tire label, with its information on three criteria, raises awareness of the important role tires play in the vehicle’s performance.”

However, he also warned, once again, that people need to remember the limitations of the labels three test criteria. “…whilst the label is a good starting point, there are also many other important factors that tire purchasers should take into consideration. For example, even the best performing winter tires score relatively low on the tire label, since they have been optimized to operate effectively at cold temperatures and on snow and ice. By comparison, we as a premium tire manufacturer develop tires analyzing over 50 criteria – not only the three on the tire label.”

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Michael Staude, general manager of tires and wheels, for TÜV SÜD Automotive, emphasized the need for effective local enforcement systems across the European Member states, saying: “Long-term, the legislation can only be successful and credible in the eyes of consumers and dealers if all tires sold within, and imported into, the European Union fully comply with the legislation.”

Malcolm Harbour, member of the European Parliament and chairman of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, who played an integral role in the adoption of the EU tire label legislation, reinforced the importance of the label in helping to improve both the safety of drivers and the protection of the environment.

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“The EU tire label was introduced as a big package of safety and environmental measures for passenger and commercial vehicles across Europe. Tires are probably one of the more difficult things for consumers to buy, so they need much clearer and impartial information. You can only give consumers a certain amount of information, you do not want to overload them. Therefore, we focused on clear criteria that enabled consumers to make an informed choice.”

The Goodyear Dunlop research shows that for passenger car drivers wet grip is the most important rating, with 52% putting that in their top three items for consideration when purchasing new tires. The fuel efficiency that comes with a better rolling resistance figured in 47% of consumer needs, whilst exterior noise was present in 41%.

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However, this position was challenged from the floor with Hyundai Automotive’s Stephen Stacey pointing out that “Price is the most important label.” He questioned whether consumers were really being honest when they said that wet braking is the most important criteria. The suggestion was that they may just saying what they think they should. In the end, that point was summarized as centering on the understanding that you get what you pay for and that as long as tires meet minimum standards they are all legal.

Also speaking at the roundtable debate were Electrolux vice president for environmental and European Aafairs Viktor Sundberg, who shared experiences from the labeling scheme in the white goods industry; FIA mobility officer Luca Pascotto, who stressed the importance of road safety; and Goran Zubanovic, who leads Goodyear Dunlop’s European retail chains Premio and Vulco and gave the perspective from tire dealers. (Tyres & Accessories)

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