SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California has taken a first step toward a possible statewide Replacement Tire Efficiency Program that would ensure that replacement passenger and light-duty truck tires sold in California are at least as energy efficient as OE tires on vehicles sold in the state.
The California Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission recently directed the state's Energy Commission (CEC) "to adopt and implement" standards to this effect, citing the "potential to significantly reduce fuel consumption by California drivers."
The proposal, if it eventually results in standards, would be in addition to regulations covering commercial truck tires promulgated by the California Air Resources Board in 2013 that require commercial trucking operations to equip all their vehicles with tires and/or retreads that meet the Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay verified low-rolling-resistance requirements.
The commission cites authority granted by California Assembly Bill 844, passed in 2003, for its action, which sets into motion a series of fact-gathering initiatives that will serve as the basis for determining whether and how to proceed to rule-making.
Specifically, the CEC is directed to develop and adopt:
- a database of the energy efficiency of a representative sample of replacement tires (based on test procedures adopted by the CEC);
- a rating system for the energy efficiency of replacement tires;
- requirements that manufacturers report the energy efficiency of replacement tires;
- minimum efficiency standards for replacement tires; and
- consumer information requirements, including readily accessible point-of-sale information.
The first step in the process is an Order Instituting Informational (OII) Proceeding, which sets the stage for proceedings designed to gather and access information to assist the CEC in formulating policies.
The commission's order suggests the OII should provide a platform that could lead to rule-making by as early as spring 2021.
The order directs the commission to "facilitate collaboration and information exchange with industry stakeholders, including, but not limited to, tire manufacturers, retail tire businesses, tire test labs, consumer information organizations, environmental interest groups, electric utilities and government agencies."
In a statement, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) — one of the targeted stakeholders — said it "looks forward to participating collaboratively in the OII process as a stakeholder. USTMA is committed to assuring that the [CEC] accesses reliable and credible data and information regarding this important topic."
This order is the third attempt by California to promulgate rule-making on the fuel-efficiency of tires. The first were in 2003 and 2008, neither of which resulted in rule-making. In 2012 California paused its rule-making process on the matter in deference to a federal directive to the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) to establish federal rolling-resistance ratings.
That initiative later was incorporated into the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act in 2015 but, according to the California commission, the NHTSA halted proceedings on that action in 2017 after initially starting rule-making.
With federal action on the matter suspended indefinitely, the commission "desires to reinitiate" its own action on this program.
The commission plans to hold meetings starting in early 2021 to gather "data, information and comments" from various stakeholders covering items such as:
- sales and cost of tires, efficient technologies, tire safety, tire life and tire recycling;
- performance testing of low rolling-resistance tires sold in North America, Asia and Europe since 2012;
- market research on options to display tire-efficiency data at physical or online points-of-sale in California; and
- any other information necessary to develop recommendations for rating and setting standards for fuel-efficient tires.
The CEC encourages public participation in this process. Further information can be found at energy.ca.gov/tire.