DAILY NEWS Feb 1, 2013 12:42 PM - 0 comments

Low rolling resistance tires perform equally well on packed snow, study suggests

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OTTAWA, Ont. -- Low rolling resistance (LRR) tires not only improve fuel economy by 4-11%, but they also last as long and perform as well on packed snow as truck tires that are not marketed for low rolling resistance.

Those were the findings of a study from the National Research Councils and Transport Canada, conducted in light of increased market penetration of low rolling resistance tires and complaints from some operators of such tires that they don’t perform well on packed snow. Low rolling resistance tires have made considerable inroads into the trucking industry and that trend is likely to continue, thanks to impending EPA and NHTSA rules which will create minimum fuel economy standards beginning in 2014. Canada is set to mirror the US rules with its own requirements, which will encourage the use of low rolling resistance tires on trucks.

“To comply with the proposed Canadian regulations, it is expected that truck manufacturers and importers will increase the penetration of fuel saving technologies, including LRR tires, to equip on vehicles for sale in Canada,” Transport Canada announced when releasing the results of its study. “While some manufacturers, importers and truck owner/operators already equip selected vehicles with LRR tires in Canada, some members within the Canadian trucking industry have expressed concerns that LRR tires may have reduced winter road traction performance compared to non-LRR tires, particularly in snow covered road conditions.”

To investigate those concerns, the NRC and Transport Canada engaged Smithers-Rapra to test a variety of LRR and non-LRR tires in a series of tests including: dynamometer testing; durability testing to FMVSS 119 test procedures; and performance on snow-covered roads on a test track in Kapuskasing, Ont.

Loaded and unloaded trailers were used in straight-line braking tests using five different configurations of SmartWay-verified LRR tires and one configuration using non-LRR tires. Track conditions featured medium- and medium-hard pack snow.

The trial found that: LRR tires provided 29% less rolling resistance than traditional tires; that all LRR and non-LRR tires passed minimum durability requirements, with no discernable difference between the two tire types; and that LRR tires demonstrated comparable levels of snow traction compared to traditional tires.

“With the exception of the tires that are specifically marketed by their respective manufacturers as a high-traction tire, the results of this preliminary study indicates that the current generation of LRR tires can offer a similar level of snow traction performance as conventional tires, while reducing fuel consumption and emissions,” Transport Canada announced. “Put in the context of Canadian trucking, there are many factors that must be considered when purchasing tires for a tractor and trailer combination. The advent of low rolling resistance tires has given owners and operators one more tire characteristic to consider.”

You can read the full report by downloading it from the Documents section of this page.

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