Goodyear Dunlop to Adjust Its Retread Strategy
There is a new message coming from Goodyear Dunlop regarding its European retread brand and product strategy. The retreaded truck tyre business is now clearly seen as an integral part of the group’s new truck tyre business, and it is thus focusing directly on large and small fleets across the whole of Europe, serviced by a professional dealer network. As part of what is called “Goodyear Retread Technology”, the American Corporations’ European subsidiary will now focus more on the complete concept of offering a cradle to grave philosophy. This concept starts with the development of a new tyre with a high focus on fuel saving, mileage and reliability – in other words, using the company’s “MaxTechnology”. Consequently the usage of special compounds, new designs and new casing construction will allow multiple retreading and offer the lowest cost to the customer, points out Danny Van Essche, retread manager at Goodyear Dunlop Tires Europe.
As a result of continuous investment, Goodyear launched TreadMax at the IAA in Hanover last September. “Goodyear is setting a new industry standard in truck tyre retread quality with this introduction. TreadMax is the name of the new Goodyear retread product line belonging to the MaxTechnology new tyre generation”, Van Essche continues. This new product could be best described as a remanufactured tyre “and provides an extra dimension to the extended life of truck tyres. This new product combines Goodyear MaxTechnologies in a retread that is equal in performance to a MaxTechnology new tyre.”
The current economic climate coupled with the high cost of fuel increases the importance of TreadMax. This new product can potentially achieve the same economic fuel consumption and mileage performance as the best Goodyear new tyre, the retread manager asserts. “Every operator wants the best possible value for money, particularly today. TreadMax not only extends the life of Goodyear’s top-performing tyres but also extends their performance in terms of mileage and fuel consumption.” This new product line will also have a pull effect onto the already well-established “NextTread” brand, says the Brussels based retread manager.
The strategy that Goodyear Dunlop is following with the introduction of its new TreadMax mould-cure product line clearly takes its cues from the premium quality of the company’s new tyres. Like a number of other major new tyre manufacturers, Goodyear Dunlop now wants to optimise the products offered in its new tyre premium ranges with a corresponding premium mould-cure retreading product. While these TreadMax retreads will only be produced using MaxTechnology casings along with new tyre tread patterns and compounds, the already existing and well-established NextTread retread brand will of course remain. NextTread mould-cure retreads are produced in Goodyear Dunlop’s own factories in Wolverhampton (UK) and Riom (France). Goodyear will continue to use the NextTread brand for producing its standard Goodyear Dunlop product lines using Goodyear Dunlop casings, and also those of competitors in situations where Goodyear takes over a fleet from a competitor.
Goodyear has also an extensive pre-cure product line under the NextTread umbrella, which is produced by the company’s so-called “Goodyear Authorized Retreaders” (GAR’s), of which there are 75 in the whole of Europe. These retreading partners preferably use Goodyear Dunlop casings. Typically pre-cure retreading is dealer business and Goodyear will continue to support this business by the introduction of new designs that copy the new generation of new tyres. “Pre-cure has a dominance in local fleet business and Goodyear GAR’s provide an excellent service to their customers with premium Goodyear Dunlop products.”
GAR’s produce pre-cure retreads using tread designs and compounds developed by the Goodyear Technical Center. The production of tread rubber is outsourced to third party suppliers, namely Empresa Industrial de Borracha (EIB) in Portugal and Marangoni in Italy. One of the main features of the Goodyear pre-cure strategy is the Unicircle building machine, which through the usage of specially designed Unicircle patterns, can closely restore the specifics of the new tyre.
As Danny Van Essche points out, Goodyear Dunlop’s new retread development is focused on the fleet’s needs, “but our dealer partners are crucial for service management”. The aim to lower the fleet’s costs can only properly function, he adds, “with the help of our various dealer networks, such as ‘Truck Force’”. And the requirements of these fleet customers usually entails the supply of both high quality new tyres with maximised performance parameters (MaxTechnology) as well as retreaded truck tyres. Both will be used in order to minimise cost per kilometre. And the maths involved in the calculation here overlooks the additional positive environmental aspects of retreading, Mr. Van Essche adds.
Today it is increasingly difficult to be successful in the new tyre market without a sustainable retreading concept. The retread manager points out that this demand comes from fleet customers. It is they that more and more often want to outsource tyre management to specialists from the tyre trade or directly to the new tyre industry. “Fleets are under pressure to reduce costs and they realise more and more that retreading is part of that game. Today, fleets want to see the same features in the retread as in the new tyre: fuel saving, mileage, reliability, traction, wet braking, noise reduction. They expect the tyre industry to take leadership in the development of new products that meet these requirements.” Thus, typically an integral component of such outsourcing agreements is the inclusion of retreads.
The new TreadMax concept, described above, makes it possible for Goodyear Dunlop to cover an even greater market with its products and services and eventually gain market share. And it is clear that Goodyear Dunlop will continue to invest in both TreadMax and NextTread: “This is clearly our objective. As we know that Europe has a wide variety of competitive landscapes and different fleet consolidation, national approaches on what retread technique to use may vary according to the demands coming from the different markets.”
TreadMax mould-cure retreads are obviously offered and sold as a premium market segment product for fleet customers. However, Goodyear Dunlop’s retread manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) does not wish to make a quality differentiation between TreadMax and NextTread, as NextTread retreads are also clearly a product for the top market segment and are far from being a budget product. As Danny Van Essche puts it, Goodyear Dunlop has – starting from NextTread – climbed another step up the ladder.
TreadMax is a productline that will appeal more to fleet customers that have a high focus on fuel saving combined with excellent mileage, Mr. Van Essche is convinced. NextTread pre-cure retreads in turn, due to the fact that they are mostly produced by independent retreaders across Europe, is more of a brand strongly rooted in the tyre trade. It is a point of fact that retreads produced by a Goodyear Authorized Retreader are also sold to fleets, even major international fleets. But mostly they are smaller fleets operating on a regional basis rather than Europe-wide.
Commenting on the current market situation, Danny Van Essche points out the additional importance of a functioning fleet business. “It drives your innovation and improves your processes to further improve the service package through the tyre trade. Because of the strongly fluctuating nature of current free market demand, a reliable constant within the tyre trade, fleet business, is essential”, he adds. “Companies that sell solutions to fleets won’t suffer so much. But companies that sell retreads as a commodity compete unsuccessfully with cheap new tyre imports.” Mr. Van Essche also believes that in certain countries, there will be a continued consolidation among the retreaders. Nevertheless, because of the continuous improvement of retread performance (see fuel saving) the retreading business within Europe will again expand in the near future and even gain market share to the detriment of the new tyre industry. Thus the retreading ratio will change in favour of retreads again.