(EnergyAsia, November 8 2011, Tuesday) — An “astonishing” 7.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) was estimated to have been emitted into Singapore’s atmosphere last year, according to a Frost & Sullivan study commissioned by Germany’s specialty chemicals company LANXESS.

The study found that 45% of this emission came from passenger cars which made up for 64% of Singapore’s 932,046 vehicle population. Carried out over a period of nine weeks, this pioneering study surveyed a total of 250 drivers aged between 20 and 60 years of age.

While individual drivers were concerned about the environment and were undertaking measures within their homes to reduce carbon emission, the study revealed their environmental concerns stopped short at home and didn’t translate to their driving habits.

The passivity on the part of the drivers was attributed to lack of information available to them on the positive environment impact through driving etiquette.

Some 86% of respondents cited the ‘energy labels’ on electrical appliances as a primary guide when selecting a choice home appliance. Only 41.6% of respondents cited referring to external sources when selecting their car-parts i.e. tyres.

With the pressing need for innovation and sustainable mobility that can protect the environment and our climate, LANXESS said it commissioned Frost & Sullivan to carry out the study to examine the green habits of Singapore drivers.

Among the environmentally friendly technological breakthroughs in the automobile industry, ‘greener’ substitutes for conventional tyres were found to be the most applicable yet the least acknowledged by both end consumers and the industry itself.

As tyres are one of the most frequently-replaced auto-parts over a car’s driving cycle, 95% of respondents indicated that they would consult guidelines in the form of information labels when purchasing tires, should they be available.

Vivek Vaidya, vice-president for Frost & Sullivan’s automotive and transportation division, said:

“According to our findings, over 70% drivers agreed that energy conservation and labelling were important in selecting environmentally-friendly products. However, only some 6-7% of respondents were aware of any available measurements for road grip, noise or rolling resistance.

“About 90% of drivers surveyed agree that government regulated labelling for a wide range of products would increase usage of energy-efficient products.”

The study found that green tyres will help realise a national saving of 352,600 tonnes of CO2 (5% carbon reduction).

LANXESS said the conversion to green tyres will enable Singapore to save 144 million litres of fuel annually. An average motorist travelling 20,000 km in a year will save around S$254 based on current fuel prices.

LANXESS said the study’s findings coincide with climate conservation efforts by the governments in Europe, the US and South Korea.

European Union governments have made headlines with their legislation for a mandatory tyre labelling system covering fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise level to take effect from November 2012. The labelling scheme has been well commented on by industry watchers as consumer empowerment in making informed tire purchases.

South Korea has plans to introduce compulsory labelling based on the EU model. Japan has implemented a voluntary obligation to label tyres since 2010. Similar schemes are currently being discussed in the US and Brazil.

Christoph Kalla, LANXESS AG’s Global Head of Marketing for the Performance Butadiene Rubber (PBR) business unit, said:

“Tyres with an excellent performance profile in terms of rolling resistance, road grip, mileage and noise emissions are known as green tyres. More stringent emission standards are being placed worldwide, including in Singapore.

“Faced with soaring energy prices, both drivers and the automobile industry are feeling the crunch and are aware of the need for groundbreaking measures to fight the increase in carbon emissions. Green tyres, moderate driving and appropriate tire pressure are practical, effective low-cost measures that can help reduce CO2 output and save on fuel costs without compromising on vehicle performance.”

By 2015, Singapore will become an important location for the tyre industry. Neodymium polybutadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) used in the treads and sidewalls of tyres, is  key ingredient in green tyres which helps reduce the energy consumption or rolling resistance of a tyre. Nd-PBR also reduces abrasion, thus playing a significant role in making tires more durable.

LANXESS is investing 400-million-euro in a second plant on Jurong Island with a production capacity of 140,000 metric tons per year. Announced in June 2011, the plant is the company’s largest Nd-PBR investment globally.