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For Immediate Release: December 13, 2007
Media Contact: Claudia Chandler - 916-654-4989

California Explores Gas-Saving Tires

SACRAMENTO - Manufacturers, environmental and consumer organizations and government officials came together to stress the importance of fuel-efficient tires in saving gasoline, reducing costs to consumers, and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

"If a third of Californians bought fuel-efficient tires, they could cut their gasoline use by 100 million gallons each year," noted California Energy Commissioner Jim Boyd. "At today's prices, that means consumers save $340 million a year."

Boyd made his comments at an Energy Commission workshop on low rolling-resistance tires, a topic just now beginning to get national and international attention. In 2003, consumer bill AB 844 directed the Commission to develop a fuel-efficient tire program that included a rating system, consumer education and efficiency standards for replacement tires on passenger vehicles and light duty trucks.

Tires on new cars are carefully chosen for high fuel economy as manufacturers try to meet federal fuel efficiency standards. When it comes time to replace worn tires, however, consumers have little information about rolling resistance on which to base their tire choices. To remedy that situation, the Energy Commission is considering test procedures, evaluating tire labeling options and working to educate the public on the energy saving possibilities of fuel-efficient tires.

"Once again California is a trend-setter for fuel efficiency and global climate change," said Boyd. "Californian's consume approximately 16 billion gallons of gasoline a year. Taking all steps available to reduce our petroleum dependence and keep more money in consumer's pockets is where we need to be headed."

Participants at today's workshop agreed on the importance of proper tire maintenance as well. The Energy Commission estimates that if all Californians properly inflated and aligned their tires, we'd save another 300 million gallons of gasoline a year -- a $1 billion saving for California drivers.

Mike Wischhusen, representing the Michelin Tire Corporation, agreed with the need to build public awareness about low rolling resistance tires. "In the past 15 years, Michelin's green energy-saving tires have saved 2.4 billion gallons of gasoline worldwide, reducing 25 million tons of equivalent CO2 emissions."

Luke Tonachel, Senior Staff Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, agreed with Michelin. "Further advances in tire efficiency are possible, up to a 50 percent reduction in tire rolling resistance, within the next 10 to 15 years," he said.

"A difference of as much as 50 percent in rolling resistance for a car at 40 miles per gallon can improve the car's fuel economy by up to 4 miles per gallon, and lower CO2 emissions by up to 10 percent," according to Michelin's Wischhusen.

This is the first workshop in the Energy Commission's regulatory proceeding to establish tire fuel efficiency standards for California.

For more information on this process and technical information on tire efficiency visit the Energy Commission's website: www.energy.ca.gov/transportation/tire_efficiency/

Created by the Legislature in 1974, the California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. The Energy Commission has five major responsibilities: forecasting future energy needs and keeping historical energy data; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency through appliance and building standards; developing energy technologies and supporting renewable energy; an planning for and directing state response to energy emergency.

Members of the Energy Commission are Chairman Jackalyne Pfannenstiel; Vice Chair James D. Boyd; Commissioners Jeffrey Byron; John Geesman; and Dr. Arthur H. Rosenfeld.

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