Efficiency labels on tires are mandatory but not easy to find

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Efficiency labels on tires are mandatory but not easy to find

It has been passed more than a month since a new tire labeling system started, but consumers are clueless as tire manufacturers move slowly to label their products.

A tire efficiency rating system, which requires manufacturers and retailers of auto tires to disclose braking distances on wet surfaces and fuel efficiency on their products, became mandatory last Dec. 1. Tires for trucks and commercial vehicles will have to be labeled starting next December.

The move is a global trend to better inform vehicle owners. The European Union started a similar system last November, while countries like Brazil, the United States and China are also reportedly adopting such systems in the near future.

With a wobbly economy and high gas prices, car owners are more interested than ever before about how their tires can affect their cars’ performances and fuel efficiencies.

According to a recent survey by Lanxess Korea, the local unit of a German chemical company that provides high-tech rubber to tire manufacturers, 77 percent of people surveyed said a tire labeling system would help them select tires.

And 70 percent said they would like to purchase tires with environmentally friendly ratings.

But local tire companies are dragging their feet on the system. Some consumers said they visited the Website of the Korea Energy Management Corporation (Kemco) to check information on products rather than visiting manufacturers’ Web site.

“We received complaints that some tires companies do not post the information,” said an official from Kemco, which oversees the new label system. “Displaying labels on the products and putting the information and specifications on Web sites are both requirements.”

Some analysts said the reason tire companies are moving slow is that they lack products with good ratings under the new system and don’t want to hurt their brand images.

Tire companies refuted such claims, saying the quality of their products is good but they need more time to come up with labels for all of them.

“More than 600 products are sold in the market, and it’s going to take time to label each of them,” a spokesman from a local tire company said.

Critics point out that the label system began in 2011 on a voluntary basis, and tire companies have had plenty of time to prepare for it becoming compulsory.

A check of Kemco’s Web site showed that only 60 tires have all the information needed on the labels, and only 14 of them earned the highest grade.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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