In this month’s column I want to talk about the rising success and relevance of the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) throughout Europe. TPMS is probably not high on the list of priorities for drivers, but having been installed in all new cars for a number of years now over here, the system is definitely proving to be a vital piece of equipment that aids driving safety. (In the U.S., tire pressure monitoring systems have been standard on all light vehicles since the 2008 model year.)
From personal experience TPMS fitted to a modern car can sometimes be an irritating problem when driving on European roads, where potholes remain a continuing hazard for drivers. This is because the TPMS is so sensitive, it can react when driving over particularly deep openings in the road and therefore needs resetting.
However, the industry has fully embraced the importance of TPMS, so much so that recently the European Parliament indicated it intends to further revise the rules for TPMS to include light and heavy commercial vehicles, trailers, coaches and buses.
This welcome development, which is expected to be fully operational by 2022, has been fully approved by the European tire market. According to the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturing Association, previous surveys have shown heavy-duty vehicles consistently drive between 40% and 65% of the distances they travel on under-inflated tires plus between 10% and 25% on tires that are seriously under-inflated by more than 10%.
The Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee states, “This is an extremely important move towards even safer roads and lower energy consumption in Europe. With TPMS already being mandatory throughout the EU for the past five years for cars, the inclusion of commercial vehicles to this ruling has been long overdue.”It is interesting to note that with these new laws and regulations being implemented, Europe now surpasses the United States as the largest market with a demand for TPMS on a global basis. China currently has the third largest TPMS consumer market due to the size of its enormous automobile market sector.
Given the European market’s move into TPMS equipment for commercial vehicles, Ateq TPMS Tools LC (which has one of its four international headquarters in France) recently launched the VT Truck, which is already “making waves” as an HGV TPMS maintenance tool for workshops, fleet managers and hauliers.
While in the UK (still part of the European Union, at least until October!), one of the leading suppliers of tire and workshop consumables, Autogem Invicta Ltd., recently launched its own unique TPMS product for commercial vehicles. The new system was specifically developed to address a number of issues in this market, including regular breakages of internal valve-mounted sensors when a tire is demounted. It also copes with the difficulty of identifying sensors from the outside of the wheel along with battery failure due to higher mileage and usage.Autogem states it has been working on a reliable TPMS solution for commercial vehicles for quite a while, and points out that original equipment sensors also can be badly affected by water damage in the tire, which was another problem the company encountered when researching commercial TPMS.
I have also discovered yet another commercial TPMS solution that has recently been introduced — the IntelliSens UVSO1HD universal tire pressure monitoring sensor — and two truck TPMS diagnostic tools by leading European-based companies.
Taking everything into consideration, there appears to have been a lot of innovative thinking and preparation for the introduction of TPMS commercial tire legislation across Europe, and no doubt the idea of TPMS fitment will become standard throughout the EU, which can only be a positive move.
I will be keeping a close eye on future developments on this important tire safety issue. ■