According to one Japanese publication, Yokohama Rubber will launch a second car tyre line in Europe this year under the Alliance brand name. The Nikkei Asian Review reports that the Alliance-branded passenger car tyres will be manufactured in Japan and that European retailers – it names the UK, France, Germany and Spain as four target markets – may have stocks of the tyres by May 2017.
Fulda has launched the Ecotonn 2 HL high load trailer tyre to meet the demands of truck operators to increase payloads. Nearly 80 per cent of European countries now permit maximum permitted vehicle weights in excess of 40 tonnes, and operators naturally want to optimise the capacity of their vehicles. The Goodyear Dunlop brand has therefore introduced the new 385/65R22.5, allowing 10-tonne axle weights so that trailers can carry greater payloads.
Michelin solutions UK commercial director Paul Davey and sales manager Richard Dale have expanded their roles to include functional support to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, in addition to their existing responsibilities within the UK and Ireland.
Bartec Auto ID is currently an example of a company and brand more famous outside its domestic market than within it, though a recent behind-the-scenes event at the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) and automotive diagnostic equipment manufacturer’s headquarters near Barnsley, South Yorkshire showed how managing director Colin Webb and his team plan to raise the profile of this British manufacturing success story. In the TPMS sector, growing globally with the support of legislation, Bartec claims a market share of more than 80 per cent of car plant installations in Europe and North America, achieved since its first installation for Renault in 1998, and a similar proportion of aftermarket TPMS tools coverage, with 95,000 TPMS devices in North America – including 96 of the 100 largest tyre retail chains – and 28,000 in Europe. The company supplies OEM tools to marques such as Mercedes, Ford and Volkswagen, while manufacturing tools for aftermarket brands like Snap On (TPMS2), Mac Tools (TPR), Schrader (Exp’Air and Activ’air), and Bosch (TPA200).
In November 2016 EU passenger car registration rebounded following the slowdown observed in October. New registrations for the month totalled 1,148,618 units (up 5.8 per cent), according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA).
The latest figures suggest that in 2016 we had the third highest level of new trailer registrations ever, surpassed only by the figures for 2007 and 2008. However, there is also “a distinct weakening of the market in the second half of the year” according to CLEAR analysts who suggest the market is now forecasting a weaker fourth quarter than was predicted earlier in 2016. Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are all less buoyant markets than they were assumed to be six months ago.
Europe’s retreading industry is in poor shape. Sales volumes have – with the exception of a peak in 2010 and 2011 – decreased by a quarter since 2007. What’s more, the million or more retreads that weren’t (or couldn’t be) sold during this time were offset by an almost one million unit rise in new truck tyre imports. It is no great secret that up to 90 per cent of these imports originate in China and are offered in Europe at prices that make those typically charged by retreaders seem exorbitant, and it can even be posited that these products call an entire industry’s competitiveness into question. Pre-cure retreading, a process more often than not performed by small and medium-sized operations, has come under particular pressure of late. Looking at this phenomenon, it is easy to wonder if we are witnessing the start of a long-term structural change within the industry.
Following the implementation of US import tariffs in the last year (car tyres 2015; truck tyres 2016) and the widespread recognition of vast oversupply in the Chinese manufacturing base, there has been talk of consolidation of tyre industry in the People’s Republic for some time. In the last few weeks however, it has become apparent that several Dongying, Shandong-based tyre manufacturers (especially those found in the Gungrao district) have experienced serious difficulties resulting in bankruptcies, buyouts and mergers. Now the consolidation trend appears to be gathering speed. Deruibao Tire was the first to go pop more than a year ago, taking the private brand orders of some well-known wholesalers and importers with it, before its assets were taken on by fast-growing Qingdao Doublestar in what some characterised as a shotgun wedding, but was also a sign of things to come. Several local Chinese news sources named Dongying-based Hengyu Tire as the next to go (with the latter apparently declaring bankruptcy on 14 February), followed by the smaller and younger O’Green and Watson Tyre factories. At the same time, various Chinese tyre distributors report that Yongtai Chemical’s tyre operations have shut down. Company representatives were not available for comment. However, we do know that Yongtai-owned Covpress (a Coventry-based panel metal supplier to well-known OEMs including Jaguar Land Rover) has entered administration. And furthermore, DMack – which had made itself popular selling World Rally Championship tyres made at Yongtai Chemical – switched production of its tarmac competition tyres to Cooper Tire Europe’s Avon Motorsport division in Melksham in mid-August (see “Yongtai Chemical-owned Covpress in administration” for further details).
Saudi Arabia-based diversified chemicals company SABIC is launching a new range of synthetic rubbers, which are being manufactured for the first time in Saudi. The products made their debut at the K-Show Europe Exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany, 19-26 October 2016.
On 22 September 2016 Doublestar Europe Ltd was registered as a UK company based in London. Tyres & Accessories understands that the company is a joint venture between Zenises and growing Chinese tyremaker Qingdao Doublestar designed to bring Chinese products into European markets.
Shangdong Hengyu Technology has become the latest tyre manufacturer to announce that it is making tyres based on the Nobel Prize-winning material graphene. Other firms using graphene in tyres include bicycle tyremaker Vitorria and fast-growing Chinese manufacturer Sentury Tire. According to the company supplying Hengyu with Graphene (The Sixth Element Materials Technology), Shangdong Hengyu has developed “tyre formulations” that the companies say demonstrates the positive impact of graphene on the performance of tyres.
What does Brexit mean? ...Brexit? Breakfast, as the apparently hungry Welsh Tory leader Andrew RT Davies mistakenly said in the mother of all Freudian slips during this year’s Conservative Conference in Birmingham? Who knows? Indeed, as a certain Tyres & Accessories colleague remarked upon hearing Davies’ innocently accidental verbal pratfall, Prime Minister Theresa May’s favourite phrase on the subject - “Brexit means Brexit” means just about as much as “Brexit means breakfast”!
Hot on the heels of the news that Michelin’s year-round summer tyre (the CrossClimate) has beaten all-season tyres at their own game in a magazine tyre test (see “Summer tyre wins all-season test”, which reports on the ADAC test originally published on 22 September), Michelin previewed the next generation of its category-defying product – the CrossClimate+ at the Paris Motor Show at the start of October. In addition to the original product’s unique summer-tyre-with-a-three-peaks-mountain-snowflake qualification, the latest version is said to improve winter performance and consistent whole tread life performance. This latter point picks up on what appears to be an increasingly important theme to Michelin – that tyres should performs consistently well through right up to the 1.6mm legal tread depth limit (see “Michelin reaffirms opposition to 3mm replacement” for more on this).