Fuel-efficient truck tires

June 28, 2011

Low-rolling resistant tires are mandated on new trucks in California. And tire manufacturers are trying to keep up.

The law went into effect in January 2010, and applies to all 2011 tractors and trailers. To help verify that truck tires meet the proper fuel efficiency standards, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set up its SmartWay program.

(Michelin North America Inc. says Oregon has passed a similar piece of legislation to California’s, and is waiting on the regulations to be defined. “Many other states are considering similar regulations to reduce diesel emissions.”)

With SmartWay certification in the spotlight, we asked truck tire manufacturers the following question: “Does your company offer — and market as such — commercial tires featuring low-rolling resistance technology?” Here are their answers.

Bridgestone Commercial Solutions Group

Bridgestone has three steer tires, three drive tires and four trailer tires that are marketed with the SmartWay green leaf label, including Graetec wide-based tires. (See page 36 sidebar for a complete list of all brands that are SmartWay-certified.)

Bridgestone says its Graetec wide-base tire uses less materials, while its Bandag retreading process reuses materials. The result is “to make our resources last longer.”

The new Firestone brand FD695 PLUS drive tire is among three truck tires on the SmartWay list. The company says the tire is built for fuel efficiency without sacrificing removal mileage.

Bridgestone says it is designed for optimum performance on tandem-axle drive tractors in long-haul and regional operations. Its cap/base tread compounding design and deep 26/32-inch original tread depth help to increase wear life.

Continental Tire the Americas Inc.

Continental, with its Continental and General brands, has more SmartWay-verified truck tires on the market than any other company, according to the U.S. EPA SmartWay Transport Partnership’s Web site.

“Continental continues to concentrate our research and development efforts in the area of lower rolling resistant truck tires and materials,” says Clif Armstrong, director of marketing for commercial vehicle tires.

“Fuel cost has a major impact on the success and profitability of everyone that operates trucks — whether it is one truck or hundreds of trucks. Fuel represents over 17% of a trucking fleet’s variable operating costs. Once diesel reached $3.29 a gallon, fuel became equal to salaries as the major operating expense.

“At average fleet operating conditions, rolling resistance accounts for about 35% of a truck’s fuel consumption. That’s a number you just can’t ignore when truck operators are trying to cut costs. So we try to educate our customers through events and information on our Web site how low-rolling resistance truck tires really do trump long mileage tires in the long run.”

Armstrong says Continental has proven that a tire with a deep lug tread pattern also can be fuel efficient. Its HDL 2DL Eco Plus drive tire has a full inch of tread depth, but meets the SmartWay standards.

“So it’s not just a matter of reducing tread depth. There are many other factors that can be adjusted to meet low-rolling resistance standards.

“In the future you’ll see Continental continue to make improvements to our tire tread cap and base, which accounts for 50% to 60% of a tire’s rolling resistance. Primarily, this is achieved via compounding.”

Continental’s ContiLifeCycle flat precure tread products utilize the same fuel-efficient compounds as its new tires, he says.

“Future research will involve improvements in material volume, optimization of deformation, new carbon blacks and innovations in multi-component treads.”

Double Coin Holdings Ltd.

Double Coin is one of two Chinese brands that market SmartWay-certified tires in the U.S. Its F-series covers all three axle positions.

“(They) all feature special compounds and technology throughout the tires to reduce rolling resistance and increase fuel mileage,” says Aaron Murphy, vice president of Double Coin’s U.S. subsidiary, China Manufacturers Alliance LLC. One of the company’s goals is the reduction of raw material and component weights “in order to achieve lower rolling resistance on all products by reducing finished good weight.” Others are in the works, he adds.

Falken Tire Corp.

“Falken’s corporate engineers developed the EcoRun brand incorporating the eco-friendliness of performance and price into its products,” says Nick Fousekis, senior manager of consumer marketing. “EcoRun tires will help drivers save money and fuel as the tires work more resourcefully.”

EcoRun line premium steer (RI-109), drive (BI-887) and trailer (RI-119) tires were introduced at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show.

Craige McFerrin, Falken’s TBR specialist and account manager, says each tire in the line is available in size 295/75R22.5. He expects size 11R22.5 to be added to the lineup in the second quarter of 2011.

Two other sizes — 11R24.5 and 285/75R24.5 — will be added by the fourth quarter.

GITI Tire (USA) Ltd.

“In the segment of commercial tires, GITI is at the vanguard of manufacturers that comply with regulations created to reduce the emission of toxic greenhouse gases,” says the company.

“For example, the GT Radial GSL213 FS (for steer axles) and GT Radial GT669+ FS (for drive axles) truck tires have already received the SmartWay verification from the EPA under the latest Rolling Resistance Coefficient requirements. And the GT Radial GT979FS (for trailer axles) is in the process of verification.”

GITI says it expects SmartWay verification for additional commercial tires in 2011 and 2012.


Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

On the commercial truck side, Goodyear offers a family of tires and retreads featuring its Fuel Max technology; seven of them are SmartWay-certified.

“Each Fuel Max tire incorporates cool-running compounds and constructions to help improve miles per gallon for fuel savings that can be applied straight to the bottom line,” says the company. “Along with promoting many miles per gallon, tires and retreads with Fuel Max technology offer great performance and long original tread life for a low cost per mile.”

Hankook Tire America Corp.

Hankook markets five medium truck tires in the U.S. that target rolling resistance: the AL11 and AL07+ steer and all-position tires; the DL11 and Z35A drive tires; and the TL01 trailer tire. The AL11, AL07+ and DL11 are designed using Hankook’s e3 (pronounced e-cubed) technology, which focuses on energy, economy and environment.

The company says e3 “is part of Hankook’s Kontrol Technology philosophy, which allows for the design and production of tires that provide a range of benefits across four areas that consumers identified as key when choosing quality tires: performance, safety, comfort and a tire’s impact on the environment.”

Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc.

Kumho has three SmartWay-certified tires: the eco-friendly KLS02e, KLD01e and the KLT02e.

“Kumho Tire is fully committed to expanding our line-up of EPA SmartWay-approved commercial medium truck tires,” says Rick Brennan, vice president of marketing. “Kumho Tire is currently applying Low Rolling Resistance technology to our Regional Steer product to achieve SmartWay certification.”

Michelin North America Inc.

Michelin has 15 Michelin brand truck tires (six steer, five drive and four trailer) and two BFGoodrich tires (one steer, one trailer). Five of the Michelin tires are X One wide-base lines.

“The Michelin X One is a game-changing, fuel-saving solution for the trucking industry, born out of Michelin’s commitment to bringing sustainable products to the marketplace,” says the company. “The X One reduces rolling resistance over duals by 12%.”

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Lab published a study citing up to 10% fuel-savings advantage using wide single tires over duals.

“The primary technology used in X One is Infini-Coil, a quarter-mile of steel cable that allows the tire to keep its shape.”

Other benefits of X One tires include weight savings, lower emissions and regulation compliance.

“X One tires can save more than 700 pounds per truck, allowing for more cargo per load, which translates to fewer loads and lower emissions.”

Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.

Toyo has three SmartWay-certified tires: the M137 steer tire, the new M657 drive tire and the M157 trailer tire.

The company says the M137 is Toyo’s benchmark commercial product. It is designed “to optimize performance in high speed, line haul applications where irregular wear often cannibalizes a product prematurely.”

The M137 uses “optimum” tread depth and “innovative compounding technology” to resist irregular wear and produce high miles per 32nd-inch of tread.

Yokohama Tire Corp.

Yokohama has nine SmartWay-certified tires, including the 703ZL drive tire. The “ultra-long” mileage tire is the first produced with Yokohama’s Zenvironment technology, which uses cutting-edge technology to produce tires that are more fuel efficient and help protect the environment.

It features a deep one-inch tread with the lowest rolling resistance in its category, according to the company. It also has a solid closed shoulder that provides even wear, which translates to more road miles.

SmartWay-certified -- 17 truck tire brands make the list

The following low-rolling resistance tires are SmartWay verified when used on class 8, line-haul trucks. They are listed by brand name.

BFGoodrich: ST244 steer, TR144 trailer.

Bridgestone: R280, R287 and R287A steer; Greatec S800Z, M720, Greatec drive; Greatec R135, R195, R197 and S197 trailer.

Continental: HSL2, HSL2 ECO Plus, HSR, HSR1, HSR1 ECO Plus, HSR2, HSR2 ECO Plus and HSR2 SA steer; HDL ECO Plus, HDL2 ECO Plus, HDL2 DL ECO Plus, HDR, HDR1 ECO Plus, HSR, HSR1, HSR1 ECO Plus, HSR2, HSR2 ECO Plus and HSR2 SA drive; HTL ECO Plus and HTL1 trailer.

Double Coin: FR605 steer, FD405 drive, FT105 trailer.

Dunlop: SP384 FM steer, SP456 FM drive, SP193 FM trailer.

Falken: RI109 EcoRun steer, BI887 EcoRun drive, RI119 EcoRun trailer.

Firestone: FS507 steer, FD695 PLUS drive, FT455 PLUS trailer.

General: S371, S580 and S581 steer; D660, S371, S580 and S581 drive; ST250 trailer.

Goodyear: G399 Fuel Max and G662 Fuel Max steer; G305 Fuel Max AT, G305 LHD Fuel Max, G392 SSD and G572 Fuel Max drive; G316 LHT Fuel Max, G316 Fuel Max DuraSeal and G394SST trailer.

GT Radial: GSL213 FS steer, GT669+ FS drive.

Hankook: AL07+ and AL11 steer; DL11 and Z35A drive; TL01 trailer.

Kumho: KLS02e steer, KLD01e drive, KLT02e trailer.

Michelin: X Coach XZ, XZA3, XZA3+, XZA2, XZA1+ and XZA2 Energy steer; XDA Energy, XDA3, X-One XDA, X-One XDN2 and X-One XDA Energy drive; XTA Energy, XT1, X-One XTA and X-ONE XTE trailer.

Roadmaster: RM180 and RM185 steer; RM871 trailer.

Sailun: S605 steer.

Sumitomo: ST778SE steer, ST710SE trailer.

Toyo: M137 steer, M657 drive, M157 trailer.

Yokohama: RY617, 103ZR and 101ZL steer; 703ZL, TY517mc2 and TY577 drive; RY407, RY587 and RY587mc2 trailer.