Continental Welcomes Initiative for EU Tire Label and Warns Against Consumer-Unfriendly Implementation

Automotive supplier concerned about inconsistent inspection and sanction measures / Study by the Fraunhofer Institute raises concerns of inadequate implementation

(PresseBox) (Hannover, ) Continental AG welcomes the current initiative of the EU Commission to provide motorists with standardized information about tire characteristics for the criteria of braking performance, rolling resistance and rolling noise. At the same time, leading European manufacturers of car tires are concerned about inadequate implementation to the disadvantage of the consumer.

"As the leading European manufacturer, we welcome the initiative of the European Commission to provide motorists with standardised information on tire characteristics. However, we would explicitly point out the problem areas to be expected during the implementation in the twenty-seven countries of the EU. In particular, this includes the question of sanction mechanisms which can be used to move all manufacturers - as well as importers of low-price Asian tires - toward diligent implementation. However, the proposal to put the label directly on our products is also too short-sighted because most tire buyers do not see their tires until they are already mounted on the vehicle," according to the Executive Board vice chairman of Continental AG, Dr Alan Hippe, who heads the Rubber Group where he is responsible for the Passenger and Light Truck Tire division.

A study of the Fraunhofer Institute on the implementation of the Fuel Consumption Labeling for Cars in Germany in 2001 showed that self-certification measures are often abused due to a lack of inspection mechanisms and sanctions. More than 50% of the electric appliances checked in 320 German stores were incorrectly labeled or not labeled at all. "That simply may not happen with passenger tires, considering how important they are for safety," stressed Dr. Hippe.

The EU Commission recently presented the directive for the combined tire label which is planned starting in 2012. The label comprises concrete specifications on the basis of seven classes (A - G) for rolling resistance (in kg per 1,000 kg wheel load) and for braking per-formance as well as details about the noise level generated by the tire when rolling (in dB (A)).

The EU Commission reserves the right to expand the European tire label at a later date to include the further criteria such as aquaplaning safety and cornering performance.

"To ensure that end consumers can also comprehend and evaluate this new technical information, the EU Commission should conduct a consumer survey before compulsory introduction," stated the CDU EU delegate Andreas Schwab, the European Parliament correspondent for the new European Community directive "Type approval of motor vehicles with regard to their general safety".

ETRMA, the European umbrella organization of tire and rubber producers, also took part in the discussion of the criteria relevant for the European tire label and the classification of such criteria. "We are very pleased that the European Commission has taken ETRMA's request into account by combining the rolling resistance and wet grip in its draft directive. Otherwise, the directive would have favoured the one-sided design of future tires, which would have particularly benefited the producers of low-price Asian imports, despite the fact that in many cases the wet grip performance of these products is at a development level about 20 years behind the current premium products of European manufacturers," explained Dr Hans-Joachim Nikolin, who is responsible in the Continental Executive Board for the Commercial Vehicle Tires division and represents the interests of Continental in the ETRMA.

Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH

With targeted annual sales of 25 billion Euro for 2008, the Continental Corporation is one of the top auto-motive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of tires, brake systems, systems and components for the powertrain and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics and technical elastomers, the corporation contributes towards enhanced driving safety and protection of the global climate. Continental is also a competent partner in networked automobile communication. Today, the Corporation currently employs approximately 146,500 at nearly 200 locations in 36 countries.

A quarter of all tires in Europe are manufactured by Continental, the market leader. More than 30 percent of all new European cars leave the factory fitted with Continental tires. The tire divisions are an official sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup(TM) in South Africa. For further details, please visit

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