By Denna Bowman
A quarter of new tyres sold in the UK do not meet the most stringent safety tests, says a leading industry leader.
Budget brand tyres imported from Far East and Russian manufacturers do not perform in the wet as well as the majority of European brands and are sometimes considerably worse, said Continental Tyres UK boss David Smith.
He also criticised new regulations due to be introduced across Europe within two years which will make manufacturers certify their tyres meet specific tests.
Smith said: “The problem is these will be self-certification labels and the manufacturers can say what they like on them because the tyres are not going to be independently checked.
“As an industry in Europe we are very concerned about this new labelling scheme and if it is to mean anything it must be backed up by independent verification and enforcement.”
The UK currently turns over about 32 million new tyres a year and approximately eight million come from the Far East and Russian makers selling at the budget end of the market.
Mr Smith said: “Tyres are generally a distress purchase and people have been conditioned into buying the cheapest because as an industry we haven’t helped ourselves by first offering customers a cheap tyre and then the option of a more expensive better performance tyre.
“Suppliers should be offering a premium tyre first and explaining its benefits before going down market to the less capable tyres.”