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TIA president talks counterfeit tires, check-off program

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What's the next step in the Tire Industry Association (TIA) and Rubber Manufacturers Association's (RMA) joint plan to raise awareness about counterfeit tires? What's going on with TIA's proposed T.I.R.E.S. (Tire Initiative for Research, Education and Safety) check-off program? We recently sat down with TIA President Peggy Fisher to get an update on these and other initiatives.

MTD: Can you update us on the progress that's been made on TIA and the RMA's joint initiative to tackle the issue of counterfeit tires?

Fisher: We'll be meeting with the CEOs of all the rubber companies to determine the best way to combat this (problem). They have to be able to tell us when they find a problem. We'll be putting together a plan to work with them. We're setting up meetings. The first have been set up for March and April.

MTD: So each manufacturer will have to police its own dealer network?

Fisher: Right.

MTD: A few months ago you discussed the possibility of TIA members who sell counterfeit tires having their insurance revoked if they purchase insurance through TIA...

Fisher: ...if they continued to do it.

MTD: So there would be a chance to rectify the situation?

Fisher: Yes. We're not going to come down with a hammer on someone who doesn't know. That's the problem; nobody recognizes these tires as counterfeits, some of them are so good. This problem is rampant on the trucking side. Almost every component manufacturer is reporting counterfeit products.

MTD: Will TIA and the RMA eventually develop some sort of guide to identifying counterfeit tires?

Fisher: If we can. I think we have to get into it and really start understanding how you determine they're counterfeit. Is there a way for the average tire dealer to detect this?

MTD: Can you update us on what TIA is doing in relation to other issues, such as tire aging?

Fisher: We're watching tire aging. Various companies have been doing tests on tire aging.

MTD: Any other issues?

Fisher: We'll be working on the estate tax issue and the right to repair issue. We're a big sponsor of right to repair. We're working very hard on that because it does affect our dealers, especially now that tire pressure monitoring systems are so widespread.

MTD: What about rolling resistance?

Fisher: We supported the RMA's position that came out of the energy bill (note: which will establish a rolling resistance education program for consumers.) How that affects us is we want to support our T.I.R.E.S. program, which would essentially be a check-off program. Because (T.I.R.E.S.) will do pretty much (the same thing) as the (energy bill-mandated) tire education program... we have to figure out how much money they're going to put behind it. Printing 1,000 brochures isn't going to cut it. However, if they're going to put some money behind it and really have a serious consumer education program, there's no need for us to do it, too.

MTD: If the federal government assembled a comprehensive consumer education program, will the check-off program still be an option in order to accomplish other goals?

Fisher: Well, the only other part of the check-off program is training, and we would have to look at that to see if we could accomplish that by other means such as manufacturers donating more money to the TIA Foundation, which all goes toward training.

MTD: So in essence, if done correctly, the rolling resistance education program could supersede the T.I.R.E.S. check-off program?

Fisher: Exactly. Taxpayers would be paying for the rolling resistance education program. Why would there be a need for them to pay again when they buy a tire? We don't want to be redundant, unless (the government) is not serious about it and they don't want to put enough money behind it to be effective.

The energy bill, which was passed two months ago, gives the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration up to 24 months to create a rolling resistance education program for tire buyers, Fisher noted.

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