BRUSSELS, Belgium—Europe´s tire manufacturers are challenging a European Union directive that would ban products measured in inches or other Imperial measurements after 2010, citing the international acceptance of rim diameters measured in inches.
"It is in no one´s interest to change the standards," said Fazilet Cinaralp, secretary-general of the European Tyre & Rubber Manufacturers´ Association. "The world tire industry is concerned by this provision."
The ETRMA is working to ensure the industry won´t need to change molds, dimensions or any other equipment, and that tires made in the EU remain compatible and interchangeable with those made elsewhere in the world.
Tire and rim diameters are given in inch dimensions that are confirmed in international standards governing the dimensions of tires and wheels around the world.
The issue causing the concern is EU Directive 80/181/EEC, which, as formulated, requires all goods sold in the EU to be measured only in metric dimensions. The directive is scheduled to take effect at the end of 2009. However, it already has been delayed twice, each time by 10 years.
Cinaralp said many industries will suffer if the directive is strictly imposed and enforced. She said different industry representatives, including the tire industry represented by the ETRMA, will meet with the European Commission to discuss the implications of the directive and to consult on a possible revision.
There are several alternative solutions to the problem, Cinaralp said. One is to extend the deadline for another 10 years.
A second suggestion, supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and favored by the ETRMA, is to make the directive voluntary and leave individual industries to decide for themselves on a global basis which dimensioning systems to adopt.
A third solution proposed internally within the tire industry-but as yet not confirmed officially by the EC or any other parties-and that is to change the meaning of the 16 in a 16-inch tire to become code-16. That means there won´t be a reference to inch dimensions, but the markings can remain unchanged.
Cinaralp said the industry remains firm in the view that "no one is prepared to reconsider these markings if we are required to do this."
The Tyre Industry Federation in the United Kingdom supports the ETRMA position.