At the start of the year, the British car industry revelled in optimism that an all-time vehicle production record would be achieved by 2020 in the UK. The 900,000 cars rolling off the UK’s production lines in the first half 2016 – a sixteen-year high and 13 per cent up on the same portion of 2015 – gave more reason to be hailing this new dawn, and while a significant measure of doubt was added by Brexit, the figures suggest that the growth has come with premiumisation and a sustained boom in SUV manufacturing. High-end marques such as Range Rover drive this new demand and have made the UK Europe’s second biggest premium car producer. In 2010, the premium sector accounted for just 34 per cent of UK production; should trends continue, by 2020 this figure is expected to hit 54 per cent, with SUV and 4×4 models a big part of this.
In February, Tyrepress noted this trend in represented a first in 2015: never before in the history of European car sales had SUVs outsold the traditional subcompact and compact segments, posting an increase of 24 per cent at 3.2 million units. Their market share continued to grow from 19.8 per cent in 2014 to 22.5 per cent in 2015, leaving the subcompacts in second position with 22 per cent share, and the compacts segment third with 20.6 per cent. Along with mid-size saloons and sports cars, SUV/4×4 was the only segments to gain market share in 2015.
“All of these premium SUVs need quality tyres to match” comments Nigel O’Hara, Stapleton’s wholesale director. “We could be looking at something of an original fitment and replacement tyre bonanza here – and that’s an opportunity from which we’re determined our retail partners will reap rewards.
“SUV tyres can no longer be seen as a specialist, premium or niche product. They’re moving fast into the mainstream and is bound to generate a healthy new appetite for competition, not just among the big name SUV offerings – from the likes of Bridgestone, Continental, Dunlop, Goodyear, Michelin and Pirelli, but especially in the new mid-market sector which is already emerging,” he adds. “When manufacturers’ fitments need replacing, the opportunity arises for the retailer to secure sales for consumer’s potentially limited funds by offering choice across all price points – this is where our carefully curated stable of exclusive tyre brands really comes into play by delivering tyres for pretty much any SUV on – and off – the road. Retailers can present them to their customers with total confidence in the knowledge they offer uncompromised quality, durability and performance at competitive prices.”
Stapleton’s said its exclusive brands are poised to fit SUV customer’s needs. Nexen, for example, boasts a vast range of sizes and patterns to fit virtually every 4×4/SUV on the UK’s roads. Among them, the Nexen Nfera RU1 comes in four diameters (17”, 18”, 19”, and 20”), which deliver quiet running and good wet grip, braking and grip on any road surface. Then there’s the Roadian HP, whose five random pitch array design, high-speed direction design and hefty shoulder blocks deliver high grip stable cornering, handling and drainage performance.
Maxxis’ bias-belted, nylon belt-reinforced M8060 Trepador is a rugged tyre designed to make mincemeat of the toughest mud and rock terrain. Specifically designed for extreme off-road racing, the tyre has a tread element arrangement ensuring sure-footed handling and a multi-stage, staggered shoulder pattern giving better control on a variety of surfaces. Maxxis’ off-road capabilities inspire a range of tyres incorporating all those rugged off-road virtues, yet tempered by suave on-road characteristics, Stapleton’s says. The Bravo AT-771 series offers a balance between off-road and on-road performance thanks to a rigid but comfortable carcass providing great off-road stability, with a new compound and pattern design for improved tread wear along with wet traction and hydroplaning resistance.
On the road, the Marauder II MA-S2 all-season ultra-high performance tyre for hard-working light trucks and SUVs has a unique structure designed to deliver a smooth ride, high-speed durability, precise cornering and handling stability, while the open shoulder design provides wet weather performance worthy of its off-road stablemates.
With 90 years of knowhow behind it as part of the Continental stable, Matador has a comprehensive SUV/4×4 range that offers high quality tyres for all terrains and all seasons. Two classic Matador offerings are the all-weather MP82 Conquerra 2, a popular all-rounder designed with safety and driver comfort in mind for 10 per cent off-road and 90 per cent on-road use. The all-terrain MP71 Izzarda 4×4 has a high-strength carcass and robust construction to handle off-road use effortlessly, especially on dusty and gravel surfaces.
Produced by one of Europe’s leading tyre manufacturers, Riken has been making quality tyres for European markets since 1917 and it brings to the Stapleton’s fold a formidable range of 65 passenger car SKU’s and 20 van SKU’s. In the SUV/4×4 sector Riken’s 701 range of summer 4×4 tyres in 15”, 16”, 17” and 18” is proving to be a valuable element.
“At a time when certainty’s scarce, it’s good to know the high value end of the tyre industry seems primed for an exciting phase of growth and development,” concludes Nigel O’Hara. “But at the end of the day, Stapleton’s strategy on our retail partners’ behalf is similar in times of boom or slump. It’s about giving them the quality and breadth of choice they need to compete successfully, whatever the coming months bring. With an amazingly competitive priced range of tyres delivering the quality, performance and durability SUV drivers demand, backed by our profit-enhancing key dealer programmes, we’re making sure our retail partners are up to speed and ahead of the game from the start.”