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The Europeans have a head-start when it comes to eco tyres due to strict regulations, but will they keep ahead of the competition also in the future? Fazilet Cinaralp, head of the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association (ETRMA), shares her insight.
Two years after the introduction of tyre labels in the EU, we note that the private consumer is not very aware of the labeling system. An Ipsos survey found that only one in three drivers takes the label into consideration when buying tyres. Yet at the same time, commercial fleet owners most definitely base their decision on which tyres to buy on how the tyre is labelled, in particular to select the most fuel-efficient tyres.
We think that more and more people will start to recognise the labeling as legislation is enforced across the union, as dealers start using it as part of their marketing, and as consumers become ever more aware of it.
European tyre producers can aim to be frontrunners when it comes to sustainability and demonstrate best practices under strict regulatory conditions, even at a time when the new laws suffer from lack of enforcement and market surveillance. We also note that policies outside Europe are not always in harmony with EU laws. That holds true not only when it comes to performance but also emissions, the environment, the use of chemicals, and safety-related issues. More stringent demands in Europe mean that ”Made in the EU” stands for added value. For that to still be true in the future, tyre manufacturers need to maintain their technological leadership and continue to offer high quality products for a broad range of applications.
New tyre investments are being announced across the EU, mainly in Central European countries. There are several good reasons why these new investments are being made. The European equipment manufacturers remain high-end and Europe is still a hub for innovation. But unless the EU becomes a net exporting hub by 2030 and benefits from the growth in emerging markets, we could be seeing that new capacity replaces existing capacity, rather than adding to it.
An economics graduate of Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, Cinaralp has worked in the rubber industry since the 1980s, focusing on environmental issues at the European rubber industry liaison bureau before joining ETRMA in 2006.