Tyres have frequently, if rather unfairly, been described as round, black and boring, the least sexy part of any vehicle.
Over the years, manufacturers have tried to make them more interesting to consumers, even resorting to experimenting with coloured tyres.
Now though the industry is rolling out its largest ever customer information programme that it hopes will deliver crucial cost and safety information.
Each of the 35m tyres sold each year in the UK will be labelled to explain its fuel efficiency, safety and external noise level as part of a EU-wide initiative.
“There are more than 150m tyres currently on UK roads so any information to help motorists understand crucial safety and performance characteristics is valuable, particularly given the safety improvements and fuel efficiency savings that can be gained from choosing the right tyre,” said SMMT chief executive Paul Everitt.
“Before this tyre label, customers only had price and brand to distinguish between more than 300 different types of tyres; now motorists have a set of comparable factors to make buying decisions easier.”
From 1 November it will become a legal requirement for tyre retailers to display the new label on all replacement tyres but labels will start appearing in shops and dealerships from this week. Fuel efficiency (rolling resistance) and safety (wet grip) will be categorised using a seven-grade ranking scale, similar to the new car CO2 or fridge efficiency labels.
The SMMT points out that a top-ranked A-grade tyre could out-perform the lowest-ranked G-grade tyre by 30% for safety and 7.5% for fuel efficiency. This translates to a vehicle stopping three to four car lengths shorter from 50mph and a fuel cost saving of around GBP100 every year for the average motorist.
Tyre manufacturer Continental said: "Continental considers the tyre label to be a real breakthrough in providing standard performance data to motorists in the interest of improving road safety by providing information on wet grip and, for the environment, with the classifications for noise and rolling resistance.
“However, the EU label only shows three of more than 14 important tyre performance criteria. Tyre tests from magazines will continue to be the most comprehensive source of information for motorists because they provide complete and independent reports covering nearly all criteria for the most popular tyre sizes."