SOUTHFIELD, Mich.-Radio frequency tire tracking tags may begin appearing on Ford Motor Co. vehicles during the first quarter of next year, according to a source close to development of the tags.
The Automotive Industry Action Group's tire and wheel tracking standard is in member review.
But Ford could begin putting the radio frequency tags outlined in the document into production on its original equipment tires early next year. That's before the standard is even released, said William J. Hoffman, chairman of the AIAG's RFID tire and wheel identification work group and industrial solutions manager for Intermec Technologies Corp. Intermec is a maker of radio frequency tags and technology.
Ford, however, did not confirm its planned use of the tags but said the matter is under consideration. ``It's really too early for us to be really specific on anything because final decisions have not been made,'' a Ford spokesman said.
The AIAG in July released the interim, labeling portion of the standard, which provided guidance for assigning each tire a unique serial number and tying it to a vehicle's identification number before storing the associated data in a retrievable data bank. General Motors Corp. said its final decision will be based on economics. GM is trying to assess how frequently it conducts replacement campaigns and how those costs compare to the costs of the technology.
If and when the other car makers decide to put RFID tags on their tires and/or wheels, the standard will be the roadmap they follow, Mr. Hoffman said.
Looming overhead is the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act. Minimum traceability of tires will be required by November of 2003 under the current draft of the legislation due to be finalized soon. The emerging regulations could lend impetus to the RFID tracking the AIAG standard suggests. But the TREAD Act does not specify how traceability or tire pressure monitoring need to be accomplished, just that they get done.
By tying tire and vehicle data with information on the eventual owner of the car or truck, auto and tire makers can narrow the scope of recalls or ``customer satisfaction campaigns.''
Judging from development work and short-term testing performed by the group's tire maker members, the work group believes it has locked down a pretty solid design for the RFID tag, Mr. Hoffman said.
The tag passed short-term durability tests with at least two of the tire makers, Mr. Hoffman said.