The 4×4 tyre market: still growing
Back in 1990 or thereabouts Pirelli had just bought Armstrong and were busy launching their own 4×4 range and relaunching the Armstrong Tredloc Kevlar belted tyre for the 4×4 market.
The motoring press was busy telling the world that the 4×4 sector had peaked and would be on the decline by the following year. So much for the crystal ball gazing of the motoring press.
Today the 4×4 sector holds some 5 per cent of the UK market share – it may seem more as most 4×4 vehicles have a longer shelf life that their conventional counterparts, so probably hold a slightly larger share of the overall car parc. It would be interesting to know what the DVLA figures would be on that enquiry.
Throughout Europe there is no let up in the demand for 4×4 vehicles – even in markets where an off-road excursion could find the driver in serious trouble with the law. The 4×4 has developed from a serious tool for the military and agricultural sectors to a plaything and fashion symbol for the wealthy and the aspirational. Figures from Goodyear show that the utility sector of the market, the pick up and hard core 4×4 enthusiast has hardly shown any movement over the past four years, nor is it expected to in the coming years. The value market has dropped to a steady level at 90,000 units per year across Europe, the middle market too is stable. However, the luxury and crossover sectors of the SUV market are starting to show tremendous growth with the luxury sector doubling its volume from the 2000 figure of 101,000 units by 2007 whilst crossover vehicles will quadruple their volume in the same period it is these two sectors almost alone that will take the 4×4/SUV market from its current 706,000 units per annum to 840,000 units per annum by 2007.
In tyre terms this reads as growth in every sector – winter, S and T, and H and V rated, the market volume jumping from a total of 2,089,000 units in 1997 to 7,885,000 in 2007.
The two largest markets in Europe for 4×4 tyres are the UK and Germany, followed by Spain, Italy and France each having in excess of 10 per cent of the market. Scandinavia, Benelux, Switzerland, Greece, Portugal and Austria each have shares between 2 and 7 per cent of the market. With the whole of Eastern Europe taking only 4 per cent of the sector.
That 4 per cent for Eastern Europe suggests that, as with other sectors of the tyre market, the developing markets in Eastern Europe offer a phenomenal capacity for growth in this sector. In fact, if the move to car ownership in the East matches that ion the west, then the ultimate volume of the market could make Goodyear’s figures appear conservative.