Pirelli Launches Cinturato ‘EcoImpact’ Tyre
Pirelli today re-launched its Cinturato brand as a range of high mileage, low rolling resistance tyres. The glitz associated with Pirelli launches aside, the main news is that the Pirelli claims to have married the odd-couple of lower rolling resistance/increased mileage with improved braking performance. Company executives described this as an “extension” of the Pirelli range, despite the fact that it represents quite different values to the high-speed, high performance image the Italian tyre manufacturer has cultivated for so long. 5 million units of the tyre will be produced initially, rising to 10 million after that. The tyres will be produced at Pirelli’s Bollate, Italy; Manresa, Spain; Izmit, Turkey; and Carlisle, UK factories.
The new Cinturato specifically offers a 20 per cent reduction in rolling resistance, compared with Pirelli benchmarks. As a result, the company claims the new tyre provides fuel consumption savings of 4 per cent while, by the same token, reducing carbon dioxide emissions. As far as mileage is concerned, Pirelli Tyre CEO Francesco Gori, explained that the Cinturato’s completely redesigned geometry means that the new tyre has a 30 per cent longer lifespan on average. This means the average motorist will now replace his or her tyres every four years instead of every three, based on a European average driver mileage figure of 15,000 km (roughly 10,000 miles). What’s remarkable is that the company report that braking distances are still shorter than the company’s benchmark, despite the other improvements.
Pirelli group chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera explained that the new product’s green credentials are further enhanced by the fact that it is completely aromatic oil free: “We are two years ahead of Europe legislation,” which is set to come into force in 2010. But with a tyre lasting so much longer, and not being aimed at the high-profit UHP sector, does this mean margins will come down? Apparently not. Marco Tronchetti Provera explained that due to the fact that the tyre offers increased value, it can be sold at a higher entry price.
So, instead of reducing markets opportunities or cannibalising existing sales, the new Cinturato is designed to develop a part of the market that, up till now, has been neglected due to Pirelli’s focus on the UHP segments. In terms of positioning, this means the new Cinturato tyre will be placed “immediately following the top line” products, according to Tronchetti Provera. “Up till the 1980s it [the automotive business in general] was all about volumes. Today we are looking to expand in the increasingly sophisticated market,” he explained.
The product launch coincided with the inauguration of a new exhibition at Milan’s Triennale Musuem, which chronicles the development of the Pirelli brand and its pioneering advertising and communications strategies. The exhibition features dozens of posters, sketches and historic files together with original works by 15 contemporary artists on the imagery covering the Pirelli Cinturato – from its first incarnation in the 1950s to the eco-tyre it has become today.
But Pirelli’s decision to name its green tyre demonstrates that the company is by no means distancing itself from its high-performance profile. On the contrary, the first Cinturato was something of an iconic product (especially in Italy) when it was first launched in the 50s; and was known as being “sporty.” In fact one 1956 article quoted during the launch the launch the Pirelli brand as “a tool for having fun.”