Roughly a year ago Southam/Micheldever wholesale director, Alan Baldwin, told Tyres & Accessories that he expected General Tire’s 4×4 range to increase its UK market share by about 10 per cent. A year later, T&A asked if the company’s bold targets had been realised?
In answering that question with a resounding yes, Alan Baldwin explained that his calculations make Southam/Micheldever the largest seller of 4×4 tyres in the UK: “[Southam/Micheldever] had another phenomenal year in 2007…General 4×4 2007 sales grew by 15 per cent over 2006, and [the company] continues to produce the innovative tyre sizes that the very specialized UK market requires…More and more 4×4 tyre specialists and retailers stocking and selling the ever expanding General line up.”
Baldwin puts General’s success down to the “unique collaboration” it operates between dealers and its R&D Division, based at Continental AG’s European facilities. This policy of cooperation means dealers worldwide, like Southam/Micheldever, have been intensively involved in new size development, and even tread pattern design. According to Baldwin, the result is an extremely comprehensive product range with unique fitments that capture excellent sales for General 4×4 retailers.
General’s success in the heavily OE-led 4×4 replacement market is all the more remarkable when you consider that the brand has only one OE fitment – the admittedly significant 235/85R16 Grabber TR on Land Rover’s Defender models.
Grabber UHP commended in US test
Grabber UHP, the latest on-road incarnation of the famous ‘Grabber‘ brand from General covers all of the important sizes needed by tyre retailers. Manufactured in Europe, the Grabber UHP range reportedly “grows by the minute,” with fitments for the key 18, 19 and 20-inch volume sizes.
Over in the US, the Grabber UHP, earned “superior” ratings in a test published by well-known retailer Tire Rack. The Grabber scored particularly well for hydroplaning resistance, wet and dry traction, cornering stability, steering response and whether consumers said they would purchase it again.
According to Southam/Micheldever the General Grabber AT2 is truly developed for the European market and represents the best range of all-terrain sizes available from any premium 4×4 tyre manufacturer. “Who else makes H-rated real all-terrain tyres in 18-inch sizes for Land Rover models like the Discovery 3, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport?” Baldwin asked.
Baldwin is also particularly complimentary about General’s decision to produce an 18-inch Grabber AT2: “The off-road sector is not growing, but it offers strong potential for retailers who specialise in it, and manufacturers like General, who bring out innovative new sizes like 18-inch.” According to company literature, the 255/60HR18 Grabber AT2 was the first all-terrain tyre available in this important size for Land Rover Discovery, Range Rover, Isuzu Rodeo and Mitsubishi L200, all vehicles widely used in off-road environments. The 255/60R18 joins the 255/55HR18 a range that also includes: 265/65R17 – standard size fitment for Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Land Cruiser; and 265/65R17 a conversion size for Mitsubishi L200 and Nissan Navarra pick-ups.
Alan Baldwin, Micheldever/Southam Sales Director, reinforced the success of its collaboration with General/Continental: “Our customers get a premium quality product, in the best range of 4×4 sizes available, at incredibly competitive prices. With no parallel product to destroy their margins, dealers can enjoy sensible retail profitability. General really is the ‘listening’ 4×4 brand, delivering what its customers need.”
The wider range
With increased take-up of CUVs predicted, and top-end SUVs (particularly permanent four-wheel-drive luxury models) going through tyres as fast as ever, Southam continues to offer a range that covers all these and other budget requirements.
Micheldever’s Falken SUV and 4×4 tyres are produced by the sixth largest manufacturer in the world, offering high quality products at competitive prices. Products include the SUV-orientated ZIEX S/TZ01; the T110, designed with motorway use and rough road driving in mind; and the LA/AT, which is said to offer excellent traction both off-road and in snowy conditions. Jon Limmer, Falken Brand Manager for Micheldever Tyre Services commented: “Falken’s Japanese quality and incredible availability offer retailers a dependable brand with a strong 4×4 line up and heritage.”
At the budget end of the spectrum, Micheldever offers Enduro, which company representatives describes as “one of the leading budget brands in the UK Tyre Market.” This brand has an unusually comprehensive 4×4 range for an economy product. Enduro’s HT and 606 range of road-orientated tyres are reportedly a favourite in the budget sector of SUV/4×4 segment. New sizes are said to be on their way.
Southam/Micheldever also offers Insa Turbo’s ‘Special Track’, ‘Dakar’ and ‘Sahara’ patterns. According to the company, all of these have all proved their worth off-road but the Insa Turbo ‘Ranger’ and ‘Sagra’ all-terrain/all purpose patterns, demonstrate the company’s commitment to covering 4×4/SUV market requirements across the range. Company representatives told T&A that Insa/Micheldever will be introducing two new sizes in the summer. Dave Dineen, Southam’s 4×4 Sales Manager, commented: “We visit the INSA factory regularly to jointly develop products our customers need. INSA’s quality is superb, and the brand further ensures we have a product offer in every important 4×4 tyre market sector.”