Can low rolling resistance truck tyres save you money?

How not to jeopardise driver safety when you save on fuel costs

As a fleet manager, you’ll know that a truck’s tyres could be responsible for as much as 30% of fuel consumption. It is because contact with the ground causes a truck tyre to heat up and deform. It is rolling resistance. The higher the rolling resistance, the harder the engine must work to turn the wheels, and the higher your fuel consumption.

It stands to reason that a low rolling resistance tyre (LRRT) will reduce fuel consumption and cut costs. But are LRRTs worth the extra cost? And how do you choose the best for your trucks?

A little history of LRRTs

Low rolling resistance truck tyres have been around for decades. Michelin pioneered the technology back in the mid-1990s. Since then, the major tyre manufacturers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on research and development in this field. Their aim is to sell more tyres, of course. To do this, they must produce tyres which are more reliable, and which deliver better energy performance with a longer life expectancy. Not only this, but fleet managers want their drivers to benefit from a better grip on the roads.

LRR technology is not simply about lowering running costs. If your drivers’ safety is compromised, better fuel consumption means nothing.

What affects your choice of LRRTs?

An LRRT has a different rubber composition to standard tyres. They are designed differently, and the tread is constructed to reduce resistance. They run more smoothly. However, it is not enough to simply buy the tyre with the lowest rolling resistance. The tyre that produces the lowest resistance on the road depends on several factors, including:

  • The type of vehicle on which the truck tyres will be fitted
  • The engine type
  • Loading
  • Axle torque
  • Type of roads and the conditions driven in, including weather and traffic
  • Driving style
  • Maintenance program

What other factors affect your choice of a truck tyre?

In addition to rolling resistance, you will probably also be concerned about surface grip and noise level. There will always be a compromise between different tyres and the business they are required to do in your fleet. Consider the advice provided by the manufacturers of your vehicles and tyre specialists.

Going green – an added benefit of LRRTs

A by-product of driving on LRRTs is that they reduce your CO2 numbers. Less fuel is consumed, so less harmful gases are released. If using LRRTs reduces fuel consumption by 1 litre per 100 kilometres in your fleet, this is equivalent to 2.66kg lower CO2 emissions per 100 kilometres. It is a reduction of 2.6 tonnes per 100,000 km!

No compromise on comfort

When a driver is in the seat of a truck for hours on end, their comfort is imperative. Fully inflated tyres are designed to soften the effects of potholes, cracks, bumps, and other imperfections on our roads. The major brands include comfort in their tyre tests, and LRRTs benefit from some of the highest comfort ratings.

However, the comfort level is not entirely the result of the type of tyre you equip your trucks with. It is also dependent on the even distribution of load, tyre inflation, driving style, and maintenance of tyres and vehicle.

More expensive, but cheaper!

LRRTs tend to be more expensive than other tyres. However, this initial outlay can be quickly recouped. These tyres give optimal performance when matched correctly to vehicle and use. Your trucks will cover more miles between fuel refills. Low rolling resistance tyres pay for themselves.

How do you select the best LRRT for your fleet?

With every new generation of low rolling resistance tyre, the fuel consumption numbers improve. So does longevity. However, unless driver safety can be maintained or improved, then the extra mileage and lower fuel costs are irrelevant.

When deciding on which tyre is the best for your fleet, consider what it will be used for, where and how. There is a reason why tyre manufacturers develop a range of tyres for different uses. The strain placed on a construction vehicle tyre is different to that experienced by a tyre used for a general transport vehicle. Long-distance journeys wear tyres in a different way to urban delivery routes.

For the best advice for your fleet tyre needs, contact us today. Our mission is simple:

Keeping your family and fleet safely on the road,

Kevin Wood

About the Author

Kevin has been at the forefront of the tyre industry for over 20 years. Kevin's speciality is in industrial and commercial tyres including the management and upkeep of fleets. Kevin has worked with vehicles his whole career from painting, mechanical, suspension and panel beating he has also spent time in the Australia Army as a driver. He has driven all size of vehicles throughout his career so understands the demands placed on drivers.