February 12, 2018 1:00 PM, EST

Tire Inflation System Suppliers React to Regulatory Reversal

Aperia Halo InstallationAperia Technologies

While the market for automatic tire inflation systems has grown tremendously from its beginnings about 25 years ago, one regulatory factor that was expected to be a boon for adoption is now in limbo.

In October, a federal court granted a request by the Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association to stay the trailer provisions of the Phase 2 greenhouse gas emissions and fuel-efficiency standards written by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Part of the regulations, which were finalized by the Obama administration in late 2016, eventually would have required trailers to be outfitted with either automatic tire inflation systems, ATIS, or tire pressure monitoring systems, TPMS.

The trade association claimed EPA lacked the authority to regulate trailers. The ruling came two months after EPA announced it planned to revisit the trailer and glider kit portions of the rules. The situation is getting mixed reactions from ATIS and TPMS providers.

It’s “disappointing” that the GHG standards for trailers have been put on hold, said Prashanth Kamath, segment business leader at Stemco, which makes the Aeris automatic tire inflation system for trailers.

He said the stay not only potentially delays more widespread adoption of such systems but could lead to fleets delaying the purchase of other fuel- and tire-saving technologies, including the TrailerTail by Stemco, which streamlines airflow at the trailer end.

Kamath pointed out that even without such rules, the adoption rate in trucking of fuel-saving technologies for trailers has been quite brisk. But he also noted that ATIS and TPMS products improve safety and that the rules were a validation that these products actually work and separated them from fuel-­saving devices that don’t provide what he called a “value proposition.”

Steve Slesinski, director of global product planning for Dana’s Commercial Vehicle Group, which markets the new Spicer OpTiMa automatic tire inflation system, said safety will be negatively affected without the Phase 2 GHG rules for trailers.

“I think [the regulations] highlight the importance of having a system such as this where they’ve already identified that this actually improves safety by eliminating tire carcasses on the side of the road or in the road,” he said.

Slesinki’s and Kamath’s feelings are in sharp contrast to those from the ATIS provider Pressure Systems International, whose system also is marketed by component supplier Meritor Inc.

Jim Sharkey, P.S.I.’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the company did not support the regulation.

“I know that’s kind of a surprise for a lot of people,” he said, given that P.S.I. makes the type of systems that would have been required. “But the fact is the adoption rate of ATIS on trailers is already high, well over 50%, if not higher. We would much rather have a customer adopt a technology based on their understanding of the payback and return on investment, rather than having it forced upon people.”