Bridgestone: UK Truck Tyre Market is 6-8% up on Last Year
Bridgestone UK reports that the new tyre market is starting to show signs of recovery, with the company’s data indicating that the market is running 6 – 8 per cent up on the same time last year. At the height of the recession, it was noted that fleets were parking up some units and using the dormant vehicles’ tyres to keep running costs lower in a process commonly known as cannibalisation. These stocks are now said to be coming to an end and fleets are placing new orders. There also appears to be a genuine increase in tyre demands from fleets. This is mainly due to increases in haulage and delivery volumes. However, although this activity is seen as positive it is still well below the level prior to the recession.
Despite the recession, Bridgestone reports it has maintained its position as the market leader when it comes to new truck tyres. Roger Moulding, commercial marketing manager for Bridgestone UK commented: “I believe…we can attribute our success to our Total Tyre Management package. Dealers are increasingly using this package to win fleets for themselves and Bridgestone.”
Further development of the package is expected over the next six months to include a new remote tyre pressure monitoring system, which Tyres & Accessories understands is currently being tested on selected fleets in the UK. The technology is said to be patent pending and part of pan-European project, driven by the demands of forward-looking markets such as the UK’s.
In addition November will see Bridgestone launch a new Ecopia fuel saving truck tyre. Ecopia will be Bridgestone’s first environmentally focused tyre and has been designed to not only provide fuel efficiency but to also include “increased durability, reduced impact of raw material extraction and tyre production along with considered casing disposal.” This rounded view of a tyre and its complete impact on the environment is a first for Bridgestone. The Ecopia range will be available in both new and retreaded tyres.
Bridgestone representatives also hope to announce news of further fleet acquisitions and retention shortly.
Regroove or retread?
In the midst of a highly competitive and tentatively recovering market place, tyre companies of all kinds are doing everything they can to extend the working life of their products and therefore demonstrate the mileage strength they offer. One increasingly common way of doing this is to regroove casings prior to retreading and therefore gain extra usage. However, Bridgestone doesn’t appear to be pushing regrooving as hard as its main competitor, Michelin preferring to promote the life of the casing as a whole above the tread of the tyre. While Michelin recently told T&A of increasing regrooving rates, Bridgestone representatives pragmatically point out that it can sometimes be better to get a good quality casing back rather than squeeze the last miles out of it through regrooving and risk exposing its cords.
This view suggests that getting the casing retreaded rather than that extra regroove is preferable to losing a valuable casing, which could carry the vehicle for tens of thousands more kilometres. But that is not to say that Bridgestone is unaware of the ecological and economical reasons for maximising casing life. In fact the firm is said to be “injecting a new philosophy into the ecology of truck tyres” with both the launch of it Ecopia product and enhancements in its retread range.