Related Energy Commission Information
Tire Efficiency - Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the legislation that created this program?
- Can you give an update on the law's implementation? Has it been successful in achieving its goals?
- Do you have any figures with environmental results?
In 2003, the California Legislature passed and the Governor signed Assembly Bill 844 (Nation, Chapter 645, Statutes of 2003) directing the California Energy Commission to develop and implement a Fuel Efficient Tire Program comprised of both a consumer information program plus minimum efficiency standards.
There have been some delays implementing AB 844, but the Energy Commission is back on track. We have completed testing of a number of tires to determine their fuel efficiency (i.e. rolling resistance). We are now in the process of developing the rules and regulations that will mandate tire manufacturers to report the fuel efficiency of all passenger and light truck tires available for sale in California and make this information available through a consumer information program for buyers and sellers of tires. We expect this consumer information program to begin by December 2008. By December 2009 we expect to have minimum efficiency standards for tires sold in California.
Here are some sample calculations:
- The average California passenger vehicle (cars and light duty trucks) travels 12,500 miles per year at 21 miles per gallon (mpg) using 595 gallons of fuel a year.
- If the average vehicle owner chose tires with 10% lower rolling resistance (assuming a 2% fuel efficiency improvement) they would instead use 583 gallons of fuel/year saving 12 gallons of fuel, $42 (assuming $3.50/gal), and 288 pounds less CO2 emissions annually. Over the four year life of the average set of tires this totals a savings of 48 gallons of fuel, $168, and 1152 pounds less CO2 emissions.
- Now apply this to California as a whole. There are approximately 26 million passenger vehicles currently registered in California. Approximately 5 million of these vehicles are less than three years old running on Original Equipment (OE) tires, which tend to already be low rolling resistance. If the remaining 21 million vehicles used tires with a 10% lower rolling resistance this would result in statewide savings of 252 million gallons of fuel, $882 million, and 2.7 million metric tons less CO2 emissions annually.
Based on our tire tests we have determined that there is currently no cost difference between tires with low rolling resistance and high rolling resistance. Similarly low rolling resistance tires do not necessarily result in a shorter tire life. Therefore, the Energy Commission believes that low rolling resistance tires represent an overall opportunity for cost savings to consumers based on the fuel economy improvements as noted in the calculations in 3 above.
Stories in news media and online:
(Note: Links correct as of 7-1-08)
- Tire Company CEOs Acknowledge Positive Results on International Industry Research Program (World Business Council for Sustainable Development, June 13, 2008)
- Gas-saving tires roll up in popularity (USA Today, May 26, 2008)
- The spin on tires and fuel economy (The Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2008)
- Michelin to Spend Millions Developing Fuel Efficient Tires (GreenBiz.com, February 14, 2008)
- Yokohama rolls on orange oil (CleanTech Network, February 1, 2008)
- Tire issue's a retread for state (The Sacramento Bee, December 19, 2007)
- Green Seal Fact Sheet on Low Rolling Resistance Tires (PDF file, March 2003)