Popular Mechanics has a great article up now about the future of rubber meeting the road. The NHTSA is busy formulating new standards and labels for tires, and getting rid of the old arcane system of seemingly random letters and numbers. They plan to replace the system of ratings of AA to C for measures like tread-wear, temperature, and traction with some sort of new and easy to read color graph.
While we love the idea of making anything more user-friendly, we also love the fact that the for the first time there will be a rating for greenhouse gases and fuel economy. While “greenhouse gas and fuel economy” may sound arbitrary and subjective, it’s actually going to be the measure of an industry standard for rolling resistance. A tire with less rolling resistance (meaning the amount of force it takes to get a tire moving) can make a significant improvement on fuel economy.