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01/03/2013
WINTER TYRES. WHEN THEY REALLY SAVE

KEEPING TABS ON TYRES

A recent study by Turin Polytechnic shows how much can be saved by using winter tyres: it is the latest of the initiatives promoted by Assogomma after the renewal of the website pneumaticisottocontrollo.it and the information campaign "Tyres ok: +safety -smog"

Mino De Rigo

With the approach of winter every year, the same question always comes up: is it economical to replace summer tyres with winter tyres? We wanted to approach the question scientifically, so we put into context by taking into consideration all the components involved in running a vehicle. And the result was anything but predictable. Confirming this is a study by Turin Polytechnic which was commissioned by Assogomma, the tyre manufacturers’ association, and which, as director Fabio Bertolotti said, “answers the question objectively by evaluating all the costs connected to the use of tyres”. 

The comparison involved five top-selling vehicles in the respective market segments in Italy: Fiat Panda, Fiat Punto, Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Nissan Qashqai and Ford C-Max, and three likely periods of ownership - two, four and eight years. “The analysis”  –  explained Giulio Zotteri, professor at the department of management engineering and production at Turin Polytechnic  – “shows that ownership costs are subject to different variables and considerable variance. The extra cost of having two sets of tyres is in fact very low when compared to the average cost of running a vehicle.” 

 

Extra costs are soon zeroed

Money-wise, it involves mounting and removing the tyres twice a year given that the cost of four winter tyres to replace the summer versions (which in the meantime won’t get worn because they are resting) is more or less the same as the cost of the latter. Also to be taken into consideration are the ever-increasing “winter regulations” issued by road owners and managers which affect most of the country in patches. 

“Maintenance savings can be considerable” – Zotteri continued. “It is pragmatic when tyres are changed every six months, but less so in practice and this is demonstrated repeatedly by statistical surveys carried out on our roads: over 50% of drivers circulate with deflated tyres, the consequence of which is increased fuel consumption”. A periodic visit to the tyre specialist to change from summer to winter tyres will save up to 4% in fuel, with the financial benefit in proportion to the number of kilometres driven.

 

Savings with the right pressures

“From the analysis of individual vehicles based on average kilometres travelled, if the saving with correct inflation is 3%, by using two sets of tyres the advantage emerges in 10 cases out of 15; if the saving in consumption is 4%, the advantage is shown in 14 cases out of 15”.  It goes from  an annual saving of 2.43 euros for the two-year ownership of a Fiat Panda (which travels less than a vehicle in a higher segment) to 113.19 euros for the two-year ownership of a Nissan Qashqai. Only those who had two sets for a Panda owned for 8 years would be in the red by 2.87 euros a year. Up to this point, it is purely and simply a question of money. 

Now let’s look at safety. Although it might appear to be obvious (and statistically ascertained) that there is less risk of having an accident if winter tyres are used during the cold season, the economic advantages are difficult to quantify and evaluate.  Without changing the odds and sticking to the facts, suffice it to think that on wet asphalt and with temperatures below 7°C, the stopping distance for a vehicle equipped with winter tyres is reduced by 15% at 90 km/h; the percentage triples (at 40 km/h) when there is snow on the road. Distances that can make the difference between a fender bender and a serious accident. 

 

Harmonizing winter tyre laws 

“Assuming that the only damage is to the vehicle and is restricted to the front bumper, with the exclusion of the headlights” – the director of Assogomma added – “the cost of replacing the part on the five vehicles in the survey ranged from 420 to 467 euros, plus VAT.  So trying to prevent it would be much better; this applies also to the few who conscientiously maintain their summer tyres and regularly check the pressures.” It’s a  question of good sense to be taken into consideration in addition to the legal requirement. In Milan, for example, the average temperature is below 7°C for an average of 120 days a year. Moreover, the harmonization of the winter tyre laws, which have been regularly collected in the updated website curated by Assogomma, pneumaticisottocontrollo.it, is unanimously recommended. “The European Commission” - Bertolotti pointed out – “recently set up a round table on this subject”.

(The national directive about the requirement to mount winter tyres or chains was published at the time we went to press. We will talk about it in the next issue.  – Ed.). 

 

• +Safety –Smog if tyres are okay

Set up a gazebo in the main square for distributing detailed leaflets and sufficient support material and at the same time involve 51 retailers who will offer a free tyre check-up.  This in brief is the “Tyres ok: +safety –smog” campaign promoted by Assogomma which hit the streets of Milan last December with the support of the town council. 

“The results so far” – said Fabio Bertolotti, director of Assogomma – “are gratifying and testify to the success of the initiative. Its purpose was to raise driver awareness about winter tyres during the cold months and correct inflation, not just to increase safety and durability, but also to reduce particulates and CO2”. And also save from 3 to 15 million tons of greenhouse gas in the entire national territory. “Protecting the environment and health” – emphasized Milan town councillor for Mobility and the Environment Pierfrancesco Maran – “are priorities and this is the orientation of the campaign” – which is scheduled to be repeated at the beginning of summer.

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