Tire manufacturers have been studying the relationship between tires and fuel efficiency for years. Although tires are one of many components affecting fuel economy, they are one of the easiest to change and test. And to meet rising demands on the supply chain, any efficiency solution that can reduce fuel usage and lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is critical.
Low rolling resistance (LRR) tires have been shown to increase fuel efficiency and reduce environmental impact, plus they allow equipment to meet standards mandated by some eco-label requirements. In fact, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that if just 2% of replacement tires reduced rolling resistance by 5%, the U.S. would save 7.9 million gallons of fuel and 76,000 metric tons of CO2 each year.
What are low rolling resistance tires?
About a third of heavy-duty truck fuel consumption is used to overcome rolling resistance, which directly relates to the energy a tire consumes or dissipates while rolling under load.
LRR tires are designed to minimize energy loss as a tire rolls, decreasing required rolling effort and resulting in improved fuel efficiency. LRR tires are constructed using technologically advanced compounds with special tire construction techniques to help minimize rolling resistance while maintaining other necessary tire design and performance characteristics.
Low rolling resistance tires in either dual or wide-base configurations save significant amounts of fuel when compared to tires that are not designed for low rolling resistance. While some of the costs to use LRR tires may be higher, these costs are typically recovered over the tire’s operational lifetime.
Fortunately, tire manufacturers continue to advance the design of these tires to deliver even higher fuel savings with fewer trade-offs in traction and tread life.
Core Benefits of LRR Tires
- Reduced Fuel Consumption: With rolling resistance accounting for approximately a third of fuel costs, lower rolling resistance means less fuel consumed. A 3% reduction in rolling resistance translates to a 1% savings in fuel consumed, which is an increase of .05 miles per gallon.
- Meeting Regulatory Compliance: LRR tires are already required by law in California for many vehicle configurations. With the next round of federal greenhouse gas emissions reduction mandates set to begin in 2021, vehicle components, like LRR tires, that can reduce carbon emissions are poised to become standard.
- Weight Reduction: Wide-base single tires (WBS) reduce tare weight, which means better miles per gallon and increased payload capacity. WBS tires reduce rolling resistance, can carry high loads, and can be substituted for a dual tire set in many trailer applications.
Understand Your LRR Tire Options
Most major tire manufacturers offer a number of trailer tires with low rolling resistance. The difference between the tires really comes down to the materials, performance, technology, manufacturing controls, and production consistency.
Consideration of the fleet’s operating environment is important as well. Tire performance must sync with the nature of fleet operations, drivers and their habits, driving locations, maintenance schedules, budgets, and other priorities, such as fuel costs. When considering which tires you need, work with tire experts who will help you select the best tires for each operation.
For more ways to improve the fuel efficiency of your fleet, check out our blog on the topic.