WASHINGTON (June 5, 2009) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is evaluating a proposal to include retreads in its SmartWay Transportation Partnership program, an industry-government partnership designed to improve the efficiency of freight transport.
Launched in 2004, the SmartWay program is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from truck fleets, promote U.S. energy security and save trucking companies money, said Cheryl Bynum, EPA senior policy analyst for SmartWay.
The EPA already has approved new tires from Bridgestone Americas Inc., Continental Tire North America Inc., Goodyear, Hankook Tire America Inc., Michelin North America Inc. and Yokohama Tire Corp. for the SmartWay program. This means truckers wishing to use the SmartWay-approved tires may apply to the EPA for low-interest loans to help finance the purchase.
The proposal to include retreads came from the Tread Rubber & Tire Repair Materials Manufacturers Group (TRMG), Bynum said at the 25th Annual Clemson University Tire Industry Conference held earlier this year at Hilton Head, S.C.
Before the EPA acts on the proposal, though, she said she would have to review the document fully and schedule a meeting with the TRMG, the Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau and other retreading industry authorities.
Some of the issues to be considered, she said, would be whether SmartWay-approved retreads should have casings from SmartWay-approved new tires; how to rate retreads for rolling resistance and fuel efficiency; and the need to rate tires according to the manufacturers' quality assurance and control requirements.
Tire manufacturers use different test methods to certify fuel efficiency for SmartWay, Bynum said, including the J1269 tire rolling resistance test and the J1321 vehicle fuel economy test, both from the Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association. Tire makers can use vehicle averaging in the J1269 test, at long as at least one tire meets the target figure, she said.
The International Standards Organization should unveil its 28580 rolling resistance test sometime around October, Bynum said. “We want all manufacturers to use this method because it will end variability.”
In setting up SmartWay, Bynum and other EPA officials met with all truck manufacturers to identify the most fuel-efficient truck models and also the most fuel-efficient truck configurations, including parts and trailers. The SmartWay program has specifications for parts and configurations across the entire length of a tractor-trailer, including low rolling resistance tires with aluminum wheels.
Tractor-trailers bearing SmartWay-approved design features are 10- to 20-percent more fuel efficient than those without them, Bynum said.
SmartWay-approved truck tires must provide 15 percent lower rolling resistance per axle position than the most commonly used tires in that size, providing 3 percent or greater fuel savings, she noted.
The EPA reviews and publishes a list of SmartWay-approved tires on its Web site and plans to add new technical verification/verified products pages to the site.
Purchasing fuel-efficient tires and equipment is expensive, particularly for smaller companies, Ms. Bynum said. In recognition of this, SmartWay developed the SmartWay Finance Center (www.smartwayfinancecenter.com) to help smaller, less capitalized fleets buy SmartWay-approved tires and equipment, she said.
“Because trucking is so bottom heavy, our programs are designed to have a payback of two years or less,” she said.
The SmartWay program has doubled in size annually since its inception, Bynum said. Today it has more than 1,500 partners operating more than 584,000 trucks and representing 7 percent of the trucking industry, she said.
For 2009, SmartWay partners will cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 7 million metric tons, of particulate matter by 1,000 tons and of nitrogen oxide by 41,000 tons and use 625 million fewer gallons of diesel fuel and reduce fuel and maintenance costs by $1.5 billion from the figures recorded before SmartWay was introduced, according to EPA estimates.