Pirelli launches first all-season tyre with ‘seal inside’

Monday 2nd February 2015 | 2 Comments

Pirelli's new replacement-market orientated Cinturato All-Season tyre features "seal inside" self sealing properties as an option in certain sizes.
Pirelli's new replacement-market orientated Cinturato All-Season tyre features "seal inside" self sealing properties as an option in certain sizes.

Cinturato All-Season designed for markets like the UK

Pirelli has launched a new all-season tyre aimed at increasing premium seasonal tyre sales amongst daily drivers living in markets with temperate European climates and especially in urban areas. The Cinturato All-Season not only marks the first time that Pirelli has really pushed an all-season tyre under the Pirelli name, but boasts performance characteristics so well-balanced that they are comparable with summer tyres in certain areas.

The All Season is designed for recently manufactured cars with small to medium engines, and it will be available in 15-, 16- and 17-inch versions. In addition the tyre will bear the three peaks mountain snowflake symbol, making it a bona fide winter tyre for drivers living where winter tyres are a legal requirement at certain times of the year.

Pirelli unveiled the Cinturato All Season on 28 January at a launch event in Sicily, a venue that was chosen due to the fact that it offers weather indicative of all four seasons during the same day. And with temperatures of 14-16 degree Celcius at sea level, but fresh snowfall and a metre of snow on the top of Mount Etna, the venue was well suited to the product’s theme.

Gergorio Borgo, Pirelli’s general manager – operations, described the kinds of customer the Italian manufacturer is aiming at with its latest product. Driving A, B and C-segment vehicles, the target consumers can be found in large swathes of the car parc. Indeed, Borgo said that this broad selection equates to around 74 per cent of the European market. Focusing a little closer, Pirelli’s target consumers are mainly urban drivers that use their cars daily and don’t experience “severe winters”. In temperature terms this means environments where winter lows don’t go much under -2 degrees Celsius and where summers don’t get much warmer than 30 degrees. In other words markets like UK! But more on this later (see textbox).

In addition Pirelli’s customer research, which was conducted in association with Nielsen, found that 90 per cent of consumers meeting this description were also worried about having a puncture. That’s why, in addition to a  introducing a new premium all-season product, the company is also offering a puncture resistant version of the same tyre featuring the firm’s “seal inside“ technology self-sealing technology, which releases a sealant material into any holes created by foreign objects and therefore keeps the tyre and the car running. But it is not just about continued mobility, 89 per cent of those surveyed said they would pay a premium for such a technology, meaning an all-season tyre with “seal inside” (as Pirelli calls it) also presents a significant value opportunity.

Compliance was another important factor for those Nielsen surveyed as part of its product planning. 55 per cent of those questioned expressed an interest in fitting winter tyres with percentages peaking at 74 per cent in Germany. In Italy it was 35 per cent. While it is fair to say that percentages of motorists interested in fitting winter tyres are not this high in the UK (the combined winter tyre and replacement market here is probably still less than 2 per cent in the UK), looking at it from a broader European perspective there is plenty of scope. When you add in the fact that markets such as Germany and Italy have legislation requiring winter-compliant tyres, the case is clear.

Not such a compromise anymore

GfK’s data currently shows the European all season market to represent 4 per cent market share, reporting 50 per cent growth in 2014 compared to the previous year and with a further increase predicted in the coming months. According to Pirelli’s data, 4 million all-season tyres were sold in Europe during 2014. However company projections suggest this could more than double to 9 million units by 2019. The goal is to increase all-season tyres at the expense of summer tyres (if anything), rather than winter tyres which remain the best performing production in sub-zero temperatures and still offer tyre companies good earnings potential. Indeed Pirelli expects the share of the market made up of winter tyre sales to continue to increase over the years, leaving this figure a few percentage points up by 2019.

The Cinturato All-Season will be priced 20 per cent above standard tyres, making a set of four 205/55 R16 tyres 330 euros. Seal Inside variants will include a 10 per cent premium for this feature, leaving the price around 365 euros a set for the same size. However, these figures are only indicative and various logistics and currency calculations are likely to alter these amounts in different markets around Europe and, of course, in different sizes.

All Season Compromise?

Cinturato All-Season comparable with summer tyres

Look at the Cinturato All-Season and you see a directional tread pattern, which makes it appear more similar to a winter tyre. However, look a little closer and you notice that the shoulders are relatively un-siped while the centre band is well-siped like a winter product. According to Pirelli, this combination means the tyre has good control and stability – even in quite warm temperatures – while allowing the right number of two-dimensional and three-dimensional sipes to offer snow and ice grip in the cold.

In Autumnal and slushy conditions the Cinturato All-Season is placed exactly between the company’s summer and winter performance characteristics. While Pirelli would expect their comparable P7 summer tyre to evacuate 30 litres of water a second, and while the company’s winter product can push out 32 litres a second, the All-season removes 31 litres of water from its tread every second.

Arguably the most summer-comparable performance the All-Season offers is in the noise category. With winter tyres historically having a bad reputation for noise (although it must be said that winter tyres as a whole, especially premium winter products have vastly improved performance in this area over the years), and with the All-Season seeking to mimic summer-quality noise levels, it is quite remarkable that Pirelli’s Cinturato All-Season actually achieves the same decibel rating as the equivalent summer product. Thus noise is taken out of the equation when it comes to arguments against purchasing such an all-season tyre.

Cinturato All-Season tyres have already been available in Italy and Germany (where the product won the Auto Bild all-season tyre test) since November 2014. Looking forward, company executives admit that the UK (along with France) is “a real opportunity” for increasing sales. This detail is significant inasmuch as it reveals a tacit admission that tyre industry as a whole (not just Pirelli) never really succeeded in establishing winter markets in countries like these – and to this end it is likely that we will see other manufacturers adapt their strategies accordingly during 2015.

With Germany and Italy already receiving Cinturato All-Season and – as we have seen – the UK and France next on the list, phase two of the roll-out will see Pirelli sell its all-season tyres into Eastern European countries such as Poland and Turkey. By the end of 2015, there will be 21 different sizes of All Season tyre in the phase one roll-out zone.

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Category: Product News