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Roll models: Low-rolling resistance truck tires

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Roll models: Low-rolling resistance truck tires

Truck owners and fleet maintenance directors know it all too well. Fuel is the single largest expense related to trucking. What’s one way for fleets to save on fuel? They can turn to tire makers for help, thanks to their development of fuel-efficient tires.

“Fuel-efficient commercial tire products have spread across many segments,” said Rick Phillips, Yokohama Tire Corp.’s director of Commercial Sales. “With the exception of some on/off-road applications or other severe applications, fuel efficiency is actually becoming the norm. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through their SmartWay program, has identified commercial products that meet a standard of fuel efficiency.”

With low rolling resistance and SmartWay certification as priorities in truck tire design, we asked manufacturers the following question: What are the current trends in this market segment? We also asked them to describe the current market for truck tires with low rolling resistance technology. Here are their answers.

Alliance Tire Americas Inc.

“When we talk about fuel economy, the price of fuel obviously plays a huge role,” said John Hull, national truck tire sales manager, Alliance Tire Americas. “The trade-off with low-rolling resistance tread compounds is that you have to sacrifice some run-out miles to get better fuel efficiency. So the math works out based on the cost of fuel — diesel at $2 a gallon probably won’t work, but the increased fuel economy when diesel is $4 a gallon is well worth the reduction in run mileage.

“Most prevalent is the growing customer awareness of the impact of rolling resistance on fuel economy. More and more owner-operators and fleet managers are asking what the rolling resistance numbers are when considering a tire purchase.

“As far as the SmartWay certification program, it’s great to have it — we have steer, trailer and drive tires that are SmartWay certified — but it’s only really important so far in California and to long-haul fleets that regularly haul in and out of California. There’s also a segment of the market that opt to save money by buying a top-of-the-line import brand like Aeolus that delivers fuel-economy features, whether or not it has been SmartWay certified.”

Bridgestone Commercial Solutions Group

“The current market for truck tires is very strong,” said Guy Walenga, director, engineering, Commercial Products and Technologies, Bridgestone Commercial Solutions Group. “OEM is slowing slightly but still doing well and replacement sales are strong. Retreading has remained strong even when the trucking industry was slow from 2008 to 2010.

“The current trend is fuel economy. From the voluntary EPA SmartWay program, to the California Air Resource Board mandating the use of EPA SmartWay verified low rolling resistance tires on SmartWay type vehicles, to the more recently introduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Medium- and Heavy-Duty Truck Fuel Economy rule, truck OEMs, tire manufacturers and fleets of all sizes are focused on fuel economy.

“More and more fleets are trying fuel efficient truck tires and fuel efficient retreads. More tire manufacturers are introducing models of low rolling resistance tires to improve truck fuel economy.

“Bridgestone just introduced its Ecopia line-up, our most fuel efficient steer, drive, and trailer designs in standard sizes; R283 Ecopia steer, M710 Ecopia drive, and the R197 Ecopia trailer. And in wide-base the Greatec M835 Ecopia drive and Greatec R135 Ecopia trailer.”

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Continental Tire the Americas LLC

Continental Tire the Americas LLC recently added its Eco Plus compounding to its HSL2 steer tire. Eco Plus is the basis of Continental’s low rolling resistance, fuel saving medium radial truck tires.

The company’s Commercial Vehicle Tire business unit is converting the entire portfolio of HSL2 products to the Eco Plus line. The previous generation HSL2 will be phased out, with all sizes changed to HSL2 Eco Plus by the end of summer 2012, said Brand Manager Libor Heger.

“Even wear is crucial, if a fleet is looking for optimal steer tire performance. With the latest generation of low rolling resistance compounding, the new HSL2 Eco Plus offers not only SmartWay verified fuel saving performance, but also advanced wear characteristics,” Heger said.

The HSL2 Eco Plus is available now in NAFTA markets, in sizes 11R22.5, 275/80R22.5, 11R24.5, and 285/75R24.5. These sizes offer a 19/32-inch tread depth and load ranges G and H.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. offers a number of commercial truck tires with low rolling resistance SmartWay-verified technologies. All Roadmaster low rolling resistance tires are designed with the Energy Max fuel efficient casing and feature low rolling resistance tread compound, low heat build-up base compound, and high tensile steel belt construction.

The long haul drive Roadmaster RM851em is a closed shoulder drive tire that helps to provide a balance of long, even wear and traction.

The Roadmaster RM180em, a long haul steer tire, features a shoulder decoupling groove and siping to help minimize irregular wear in slow wearing conditions.

The Roadmaster RM871em is a long haul trailer tire which has wide shoulder ribs to resist the side scrubbing typically seen in trailer positions.

Double Coin Tire/China Manufacturers Alliance LLC

“The early 2012 truck-bus radial (TBR) market has been soft in segments but consistent in others,” said Aaron Murphy, vice president, Double Coin Tire/China Manufacturers Alliance (CMA) LLC. “Due to many factors, including the lack of construction, global economic woes and freight tonnage weakening, it seems that the market is not as vibrant as it was one year ago.

“As is being mandated by certain states as well as the Federal government, rolling resistance reduction in tires is the uniform trend we see in all market segments. Rolling resistance in tires is just one of the components in the EPA’s SmartWay Program that mandates the abilities to move vehicles and freight/cargo to and from destinations with less energy consumption and pollution.

“Double Coin created the ‘Optigreen Series’ of products to respond to these new market requirements. These tires offer rolling resistance coefficients that exceed the requirements of SmartWay verifications and also now carry the Optigreen seven-year limited warranty. This trend, which is no longer a trend but a mandated level of performance, will continue to be at the forefront of tire performance and development.”

GITI Tire (USA) Ltd.

In the segment of commercial tires, GITI says it is at the vanguard of manufacturers that comply with regulations created to reduce the emission of toxic greenhouse gases. For example, the GSL213 FS (for steer axles), GT669+ FS (for drive axles) and GT979 FS (for trailers) truck tires have received the SmartWay verification from the EPA under the latest Rolling Resistance Coefficient requirements. GITI says the SmartWay verification implies that these products contribute to reduced emissions and provide an estimated fuel savings of 3% or greater against market leading on-highway commercial truck tires.

The GSL213 FS long haul steer tire features advanced technology and pattern design for outstanding overall performance, resistance to irregular wear and extended mileage. The extra wide and deep tread design provides outstanding tread life. It is available in sizes 11R22.5, 11R24.5, 295/75R22.5 and 285/75R24.5.

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

“The market for wide-base truck tires is relatively small, representing about 1.5% of the overall truck tire market,” said Donn Kramer, director of product marketing, Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems. “We believe the wide-base segment has a bright future, as does the market for low rolling resistance truck tires, which will remain a key ‘want’ of fleets as they strive to manage consistently elevated fuel costs.

“In the low rolling resistance segment, fleets continue to spec products that will help reduce their vehicles’ fuel consumption and lower their overall cost-per-mile. An ever-growing number of fleets are turning to tires that contain Goodyear’s Fuel Max Technology.

“Fuel Max helps improve fuel efficiency and lower operating costs. Each of the Fuel Max truck tires from Goodyear incorporates cool-running compounds and constructions. Tires include the G399 LHS Fuel Max, the G305 AT LHD Fuel Max and the G316 LHT Fuel Max.”

Hankook Tire America Corp.

Hankook currently markets six TBR tires in the U.S. that have been approved for SmartWay verification based on their rolling resistance test data. Those tires are the: AL07+ (long haul steer); AL11 (premium long haul steer); AH24 (premium long haul/all position); DL11 (premium long haul drive); Z35A (drive position/super traction); and the TL01 (long haul trailer).

Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.

“We see several trends evolving due to the search for better fuel economy,” said Rick Brennan, vice president of marketing, Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc. “The number of tires available with SmartWay certification is growing, but look for the SmartWay criteria to constantly evolve, with tighter standards being implemented periodically. We are hearing the current standards may be reduced by 5% in the near future.

“New fuel efficient tire models are being introduced, some with lower tread depth and new compounding to lower rolling resistance further. We are seeing fleets opt for lower tread depth drive tires over the deep tread models for over the road use as well.

“Kumho has several tires with SmartWay certification all marketed with an “e” after the tire name (example KLS02e), and we are constantly working on new technology to push our fuel efficiency higher.

“Even if the SmartWay standards are reduced, we already meet new requirements.”

Michelin North America Inc.

“As the industry leader in low rolling resistance, the Michelin X One XDA Energy is positioned at the forefront of fuel savings, helping fleets meet new regulations and reduce their carbon footprint, thus contributing to a ‘greener’ environment,” said Paul Johnston, business segment manager, Michelin Americas Truck Tires.

“Upcoming EPA/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations regarding greenhouse gases (GHG) and fuel efficiency targets will generate a greater demand for low rolling resistance tires and in particular wide-base singles. Not only will the wide-base singles provide a solution to reductions in GHGs and fuel consumption, but will also help improve the fleet’s productivity.”

The X One XDA Energy is available in size 445/50R22.5.

Sumitomo Tire, Treadways LLC

In June of 2011 the Sumitomo ST778 SE long haul steer tire earned the EPA’s SmartWay certification. That brings the total of Sumitomo low-rolling resistant truck tires on the SmartWay Transport Partnership list to three.

"Three very good truck tires have been made even better with the incorporation of low-rolling resistance technology,” says Richard Purol, vice president of marketing for the TBC Wholesale Group. “SmartWay-verified technologies not only protect the environment, they save fleets money by reducing fuel expense."

The radial tires cover all three truck and trailer axles.

* The Sumitomo ST778SE steer tire (see photo) features Flat Contact Technology that minimizes irregular wear by controlling the shape and pressure distribution of the tire footprint.

* The Sumitomo ST938SE drive tire features a new tread pattern concept for strong traction and smooth, even wear.

* The Sumitomo ST710SE trailer tire has shoulder grooves that control migration of irregular wear, and a wide footprint enhances vehicle stability.

The tires are available from TBC Wholesale.

Sumitomo is a registered trademark of Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.

Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.

Toyo Tires has three low-rolling-resistance commercial tire products for over-the-road trucks. They are the M137 Premium High Performance Steer, M657 Drive Axle and the M157 Premium Free-Rolling Axle tire. All three products are manufactured using Toyo Tires’ e-balance technology that delivers improved fuel economy while fighting irregular wear.

“With respect to low rolling resistance products, we believe strongly this is clearly a growth segment of the market,” said Gary Hendricks, truck tire sales manager for Toyo Tire USA Corp. “We currently offer LRR products in steer, drive, and trailer positions with ongoing study to increase our offerings in the future. This segment of the market has too many benefits for fleets and independent owner/operators to think that this trend will ebb in future.”

Yokohama Tire Corp.

“The market continues to show interest in low rolling resistance truck tires as fleets are looking at every possible way to reduce their cost of operation,” said Rick Phillips, Yokohama director of commercial sales.

“In the right application there are definitely advantages, and if you look at OEM projections they are certainly a product for the future in the transportation industry.

“The most benefit we are seeing now is in the weight savings for fleets that tend to haul heavy, and whose area of service is more or less regional.”    ■

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SmartWay-certified: A growing number of tire makers are joining the EPA’s SmartWay Technology Program

Tires on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of SmartWay-verified commercial truck tires have been determined to reduce NOx emissions and fuel use by 3% or more. That figure is relative to the best-selling new tires for line haul trucks, when used on all five axles on long haul Class 8 trucks.

The EPA says low rolling resistance tires can be used with lower-weight aluminum wheels to further improve fuel savings.

The following list of low rolling resistance tires are SmartWay verified when used on class 8, line-haul trucks:

Alliance Tire Americas: Trailer Aeolus HN808

China Manufacturers Alliance LLC (CMA)/Double Coin Tires: Arisun Steer CR989; Drive CM983; Trailer CR915

Double Coin: Steer FR605; Drive FD405; Trailer FT105, FT125

Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations: Steer R280, R287, R287A, R283 Ecopia; Drive M720, Greatec M835 Ecopia, Greatec, M710 Ecopia, S803Z, S718WZ, and S718YZ; Trailer Greatec R135 Ecopia, R195, R197 Ecopia, S197

Firestone: Steer FS507 PLUS; Drive FD695 PLUS; Trailer FT455 PLUS

Continental Tire the Americas LLC: Steer HSL1 Coach, HSL2 (replaces HSL), HSL2 ECO Plus, HSR, HSR1, HSR1 ECO Plus, HSR2, HSR2 ECO Plus, HSR2 SA, HSL1 Coach, HDL ECO Plus, HDL2 ECO Plus, HDL2 DL ECO Plus, HDR, HDR1 ECO Plus, HSR1 HSR1 ECO Plus, HSR2, HSR2 ECO Plus, HSR2 SA; Drive HSL1 Coach, HDL ECO Plus, HDL2 ECO Plus, HDL2 DL ECO Plus, HDR, HDR1 ECO Plus, HSR, HSR1, HSR1 ECO Plus, HSR2, HSR2 ECO Plus, HSR2 SA; Trailer HTL ECO Plus, HTL1

General: Steer S371, S580, S581; Drive D660, S371, S580, S581; Trailer ST250

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.: Roadmaster: Steer RM180, RM185; Drive RM851; Trailer RM871

Falken tire Corp.: Steer RI109 Ecorun; Drive BI887 Ecorun; Trailer RI119 Ecorun

GITI Tire (USA) Ltd.: GT Radial: Steer GSL213 FS; Drive GT669+ FS; Trailer GT979 FS Goodride Steer CR989; Drive CM983; Trailer CR915

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.: Steer G399 Fuel Max, G662 Fuel Max; Drive G305 Fuel Max AT, G305 LHD Fuel Max, G392 SSD, G572 Fuel Max; Trailer G316 LHT Fuel Max, G316 Fuel Max DuraSeal, G394SST. Dunlop Tire: Steer SP384 FM; Drive SP456 FM; Trailer SP193 FM

GTC North America: Guizhou All-Position GL283A L.E.T.

Hankook Tire America Corp.: Steer AH24, AL07+, AL11; Drive AH24, DL11, Z35A; Trailer TL01

Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.: Steer KLS02e, KRS02e; Drive KLD01e, KLD02e; Trailer KLT02e

Linglong: Steer F816e+, LLF16e+

Michelin Americas Truck Tires: Steer X Coach XZ, XZA3, XZA3+, XZA2, XZA1+, XZA2 Energy; Drive XDA Energy, XDA3, X-One XDA, X-One XDN2, X-One XDA Energy, X Multi Energy D; Trailer XTA Energy, XT1, X-One XTA, X-ONE XTE. BF Goodrich: Steer ST244 & ST230, Drive ST244, Trailer TR144

Roadpro: Steer LS180 FS

Sailun: Steer S605; Drive S768 EFT (size 11R24.5 only), H-702 (size 11R24.5 only)

Samson: Steer GL283A L.E.T.

Sumitomo Tire: Long Haul Steer ST778 SE; Long Haul Drive ST938 SE; Trailer ST710 SE

Tireco Inc.: Geostar Steer G300

 Toyo Tires: Steer M137; Drive M657; Trailer M157

Yokohama: Steer RY617, 103ZR, 101ZL; Drive 703ZL, TY517mc2, TY577; Trailer RY407, RY587, RY587mc2

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