The European Union is to make tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) fully mandatory on all new cars by 2014.
Some new cars have such a system anyway, but this will mean that all new manufactured cars in the European Union will need to be fitted with TPMS systems, starting from November 2011. Most of these will use sensors which will transmit their own ID along with their pressure, temperature and other data to the vehicle ECU.
Green Car Guide
sees this as a good thing from a green perspective, as incorrect tyre pressures can considerably worsen the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of a car . And while cars have been getting faster and more powerful, with all sorts of associated safety technology, there are still only four patches of rubber putting all that power in contact with the road, and most drivers have no idea what their tyre pressures are.
Incorrect tyre pressures can also cause uneven tyre wear, reduce grip, and shorten the life of tyres. This increases the environmental impact due to the shorter life cycle of a tyre. Therefore although we are generally in favour of less technology, weight, and cost, we believe this is a good decision and the increased safety and environmental benefits should outweigh the disadvantages. However drivers should still carry out visual checks of their tyres.
A number of car companies in the UK have voiced criticism of the decision. The criticism has focused on a suggestion that they are an unnecessary piece of technology and one for which some motorists have suggested that they would rather not pay. Although there is an argument that a driver should take responsibility and check tyre pressures on weekly basis, in practice this obviously doesn’t happen.
Schrader Electronics – Europe’s leading developer of direct tyre pressure monitoring systems – says that consumer research has indicated very clearly that most drivers do not check tyre pressures or indeed tyre tread depth and that up to 80% of cars on UK roads are running on either over or under inflated tyres. These findings have been confirmed in a number of checks undertaken by tyre company Michelin.
“Car companies have commented that there has only been a tiny uptake of TPMS on new car models,” said Alfonso Di Pasquale of Schrader Electronics, “this is reminiscent of the ESP debate where again it was suggested that there had been a low uptake from customers. The reality is that dealers are not been explaining the safety benefits of ESP and this applies equally to TPMS.
“The increase in cost mentioned in a news report in the UK weekly motoring magazine Auto Express is frankly misleading; we anticipate that the cost to the motorist should be no more than 100 Euros (around £80) per system and this will reduce with economies of scale,” continued Alfonso Di Pasquale. “A suggestion in the same news item from the AA that a new sensor will have to be purchased if a tyre is replaced is equally incorrect and even if this were the case, experience from the United States – where TPMS has been standard on all cars since 1997 – has indicated that a replacement sensor will cost around 20 Euros (£16).”
A further suggestion is that pressure monitoring technology will not be able to identify other tyre related problems. The current system was not designed to do more than indicate a loss of tyre pressure. However, work undertaken by Schrader Electronics and tyre company Pirelli is well-advanced and promises the birth of the ‘intelligent tyre’ that will not only monitor tyre pressures, but also tyre tread depth as well as offering the potential for assessing the potential for skidding on wet roads.
“The safety credentials for TPMS are well known, accepted and supported by the European Union together with other independent research and safety organisations. It has been proven that up to 3% of road accidents could be avoided if tyres were inflated to the correct levels, in addition, ensuring that tyre pressures are at the correct levels reduces emissions (up to 10% in some cases) and improves fuel consumption.”