Green tyres: how are they different?

Have you ever wondered how modern eco tyres differ from normal rubber? How they achieve the apparently contrary balance of less friction to increase your mpg without seeing your car slide off the road at the first bend you encounter? Well, as you’d imagine, it’s interesting science.

The term ‘green tyre’ refers to a whole new breed of environmentally friendly rubber that’s bursting onto the European market. From the beginning of November, new EU legislation has made it mandatory to display an eco rating on every new tyre sold. This is drawn from three categories: fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise. Green tyre technology focuses on the fuel efficiency bit.

Without getting too technical, green tyres contain in excess of 200 ingredients and more than 20 different types of rubber – each with their own desirable characteristics.

These eco-friendly tyres also employ a special type of tightly bonded rubber in the tread blocks to retain more energy while driving – this means a lower rolling resistance and therefore less engine power sapped in rotating the tyre.

Rolling resistance of a tyre can account for as much as 30% of a vehicle’s fuel consumption and a quarter of its CO2 emissions. Reduce this and you’ll also reduce your vehicle’s carbon footprint by up to 300kg a year.

There’s plenty of evidence that green tyres work, too. Research from tyre boffins at the University of Munich argues that a family travelling 20,000 miles per year in an average hatchback or saloon can, on average, cut their fuel bill by a useful £200.

As we mentioned though, don’t be fooled into fearing that low rolling resistance ‘green’ tyres mean less grip, though. The eco rubber can actually perform better in some tests than more generalist all-round tyres.

Kim O’Connor, UK Managing Director of specialist rubber supplier Lanxess:

“Compared to standard premium tyres, green tyres can reduce the braking distance at a speed of 50mph by up to 20 metres.”

So can you have your cake and eat it (and save the world) with green tyres? It appears so.

Indeed, if the whole planet followed suit, we’d not only potentially be safer, but the world would be a lot greener, too: equipping all the cars on the road with eco friendly tyres would save up to 20 billion litres of fuel a year and cut worldwide CO2 emissions by 50 million tonnes.

Maybe you should be thinking about a move to greener rubber next time your tyres are due for renewal?