As fuel prices continue to rise, the rolling resistance of tyres will become more important to operators than mileage, according to Arthur Gregg, commercial sales and marketing director at Continental Tyre.

The requirement to label tyres with performance ratings on rolling resistance, noise and wet grip will also focus attention on fuel economy, though Gregg says it is unlikely any tyre will achieve the highest rating for rolling resistance at first.

"Low rolling resistance has been a key feature of Continental products for the last seven or eight years and the market is moving our way," says Gregg. "For long distance operators, the priority will become fuel efficiency rather than mileage as diesel prices rise."

Truck makers too will also increasingly fit low rolling resistance tyres when vehicles leave the factory to help offset possible losses in fuel efficiency with Euro-6 trucks, and the new Mercedes-Benz Actros shown at this year’s CV Show (pictured) was shod with Continental tyres. Front axle loading will increase with the new, heavier trucks, and Continental has developed a higher rated 315/70 steer tyre for maximum weight artics.

Gregg also warned operators to treat the labels on cheaper imported tyres with caution, as there are no independent checks on whether the tyres actually perform in accordance with the labels.

"Labelling is self-regulated so there is nothing to stop a Chinese brand putting on a label and then waiting to see how long it is before it gets caught out," Gregg warns. "We would prefer auditing by an outside body."