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Tire fuel efficiency rating system could be finalized by end of '09

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A spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has confirmed that the agency is developing test criteria to gauge passenger and light truck tire fuel efficiency.

NHTSA also is developing a plan to disseminate test results to the buying public.

Both actions were mandated by passage of the Energy Bill in 2007, which demanded the creation of a consumer education program about tire fuel efficiency.

"We are in the process of developing rolling resistance ratings," the NHTSA spokesman told earlier today.

"We've been doing research to understand the differences in tires." However, he said, there "won't be a need" to test all tires on the market.

The agency has not ruled out a rumored star rating system. The idea, he explained, is to create a rating system that buyers would easily understand.

"I have a feeling a lot of consumers are not aware of the differences (in tires) as it relates to fuel efficiency. The question is, how do we disseminate the information that we gather?"

He added that NHTSA will probably publish a notice of proposed rulemaking this spring "with the intention of having a rating system finalized by the end of the year."

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