FRANKFURT-Creation of a European quality standard for retreaded tires has become entangled in a bureaucratic spider's web of overlapping agencies and national interests.
Looming over a process that appeared on its way to completion is the specter of ``type approval,'' whereby any component fitted to a motor vehicle sold in the European Union has to be approved for that particular vehicle. Type approval is scheduled to take effect next year, but governing authorities and manufacturers disagree on the extent of the approval process for aftermarket parts.
Improved quality and increased consumer acceptance is the hoped-for result of a European standard for retreaded tires, retreader representatives agree.
Both Bipaver-the international federation of tire retailing and retreading associations-and BLIC-the federation of European rubber manufacturers' associations-have drafted proposals for a retreading standard. Both agree that the best body to review the proposals is the European standards body in Brussels, CEN (Committee Europeen de Normalisation).
Concurrently, the German government-at the urging of a product testing agency-has petitioned a United Nations' agency, the Economic Commission of Europe, to review its regulations covering new tires to determine whether they can be amended to cover retreads. That action potentially could open the retread industry to the rigors of type approval, according to Bipaver.
Both Bipaver and BLIC argue that retreaders would suffer under type approval because each individual retreaded tire could be considered a distinct product, and would be subject to the type approval procedures.
The Bipaver proposal is based on the standards and best practices of retreaders across Europe. Each country has its own operating standard for retreaders, although most nations follow the British, Italian or German standards.
``The standard will contribute to a pan-European improvement in the public image of retreaded car tires,'' Bipaver said.
One way the standard could be used to affect public opinion would be to couple it to a quality symbol molded into the sidewall and promoted as such to potential buyers, said Brenno Benaglia, head of Bipaver's technical and retreaders committee.
The potential standard would counter a number of ``radical'' proposals considered by the European Union's ``ERGA'' noise group that could have a serious impact on the future of truck tire retreading, Bipaver said.
The ERGA proposals would require that retreaded tires for passenger, light truck and trucks be tested for noise generation under the same test criteria used for new tires. Retreaders, tire dealers and truckers all said that would make retreading too costly.
Bipaver and BLIC have scheduled a May meeting in Munich, Germany, to review their proposals and try to establish common ground, according to Benaglia.