SEMA Against Proposed Tire Fuel Efficiency Scheme - Tire Review Magazine

SEMA Against Proposed Tire Fuel Efficiency Scheme

(Akron/Tire Review) Calling the proposed legislation “unnecessary” and potentially "detrimental to the safety of motorists and passengers,” SEMA has voiced its opposition to HR 5632, the RMA-created bill that calls for the creation of a tire fuel efficiency testing and rating system and accompanying consumer education program.

HR 5632 was developed by the RMA last fall, and was passed by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on June 20. Thus far, SEMA has been the only automotive and tire industry group to make comment on the proposed legislation. At press time, TIA has offered no comment on the bill.

RMA crafted the proposed legislation last November in reaction to a spate of state-level efforts to mandate tire fuel efficiency. Rather than face 50 potentially differing standards, RMA opted to offer one national program, according to a spokesman. However, a late amendment to the bill during the committee hearing prevents the proposed program from pre-empting the California replacement tire fuel efficiency law passed in 2003.

As outlined, HR 5632 would have NHTSA create a national tire fuel efficiency rating system – similar to UTQG – that would “assist consumers in making more educated tire purchasing decisions,” and would require some sort of national consumer education program to explain the new system.

SEMA said the bill does not consider tire safety and performance issues that may arise with lower rolling resistance products and could add substantial costs to consumers that may outweigh any real or perceived fuel efficiency gains. Further, SEMA said, the bill tends to favor OE tires as the “recommended” replacement tires “because the program would potentially exempt OEM-selected tires and unfairly imply that they are superior to aftermarket products.”

In addition, SEMA said, such a law could “dissuade consumers from buying tires that may have improved performance, handling or appearance features, based solely on a rolling resistance rating. In addition, this program could easily distract consumers from focusing on more important safety issues, such as tire inflation and overloading of vehicles.”

As currently written, HR 5632 appears to exempt limited production tires – lines of 15,000 units or less, which encompasses many classic and antique tires.

Congressmen John Shimkus (R-IL), Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Tom Allen (D-ME) took up the bill as co-sponsors.

RMA said it notified TIA of the proposed legislation just days before the Energy Committee hearing. While at press time TIA has not made a public comment about the bill, association members involved in TIA’s TIRES Program, a proposed industry-wide checkoff program that included consumer education about tires and tire care, were angry that they were informed at the last minute about RMA’s plans and that the bill’s provision for a national consumer education program appears to undermine its own TIRES Program intent.

For the last three years, TIA has been working to launch TIRES – The Initiative for Research, Education and Safety – that would support consumer education, industry training and research. The checkoff program would have to be approved by Congress and by the entire industry through a referendum and would be funded via a fee on each replacement tire sold in the U.S.  

As a group, RMA has not supported TIA’s checkoff proposal, though some individual tire company members have reportedly voiced their support.

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