Giti Tire Doubles MIRA Testing Operation
Giti Tire has doubled the size of its European test centre, based at the MIRA research facilities in Warwickshire by both expanding its garage space and staff numbers at the test track. The development, which comes not much more than two years after the company embarked on its European research and development programme there, reflects the company’s determination to significantly increase sales and further develop its products to compete with longer established brand names.
As a result of the investment Giti has made, the company’s operation is now amongst the largest tyre testing programmes operating at MIRA. Speaking to Tyres & Accessories during a recent truck tyre demonstration day, company representatives explained that this UK-based European testing operation is increasingly adopting the position of a global centre as it now tests products for the US and various other global markets as well as its European mainstay. In addition the test centre has reportedly played host to the engineers from the firm’s Indonesian and Chinese production bases. Furthermore, the experienced test team that has been established under the leadership of the company’s European Technical Centre head, Eddie Young, has also begun bi-annual winter tyre testing at respected centres in Finland and New Zealand.
While product development and competitor benchmarking are clearly priorities for the European technical centre, the newly expanded facility has also been key to the company’s preparations for the s-marking law that came into force during the first quarter of this year in the UK and in October 2009 across Europe. Most recently the team’s legislative compliance work has seen technicians develop products with the 2012 tyre labelling rules in mind.
The first fruit of these labours is the Champiro Eco, which Giti Tire says already meets the 2012 rule’s parameters. The ‘S’ and ‘W’ displayed on its sidewall confirm that Champiro ECO meets the noise threshold, ‘S’ and traction in wet conditions, ‘W.’ In the third EU category that evaluates rolling resistance and fuel consumption the Champiro ECO reportedly gets a preliminary C on a scale of A to G (measuring methodology still to be confirmed), according to the manufacturer. This development saw the company nominated for the 2010 NTDA Tyre and Fast Fit innovation award.
Aiming to become fourth largest truck and bus tyre producer in the world
As far as the company’s commercial vehicle tyre operations are concerned, Giti Tire’s European and global goals are just as ambitious. According to UK commercial vehicle tyre national sales manager Tony McHugh, globally Giti is already fifth largest truck and bus tyre manufacturer in the world by volume and is now aiming to take it up another notch to fourth. Of course the domestic Chinese market, in which the company is already market leader (both in terms of value and volume in this segment), will also be an important focus for the market. And, when you consider that the company sold 5 million truck tyres in the People’s Republic last year, you can see why. But the work of the European company’s truck and bus technical team – as with the passenger segment – has already had a significant impact on production. For example, when Scottish tyre dealers told Giti UK representatives that the beads on one or two GT Radial truck sizes were too tight to be manageably broken by hand, this was fed back to the factories via European technical director Lennart Lindstrom. As a result the firm now produces an updated version of the tyre with a more forgiving bead. This kind of dialogue has also given the European team the opportunity to spot unique market niches such as the 275/70 R22.5 vehicle transporter fitment, which reportedly sees the GT Radial brand positioned as the sole competitor to Michelin in the UK.
Company representatives insist that their truck tyres are increasingly compatible with retreading and Lennart Lindstrom told dealers that further casing developments are on the way, despite the fact that GT Radials are already “without competition, the best Chinese produced casing on the market.” Size-wise the company currently offers 90 per cent of UK market fitments, with the figure scheduled to rise to 96 per cent over the next three years. This includes thirteen new regional steer, drive and trailer tyres plus another five long-haul drive and trailer sizes in 2011.
GT Radial passenger car dealers experience MIRA incentive
A week or so before Tyres & Accessories visited Giti’s MIRA operation, on 1 September GT Radial and Micheldever Tyre Services treated their new and existing GT Radial passenger car tyre dealers to an experience day at the GITI Tire European Technical Centre.
Dry Handling and Wet Handling on Champiro HPY was demonstrated by GT Radials test engineers. The tyres were driven over complex test tracks, specially designed to evaluate all aspects of steering, stability and handling performance while being driven at maximum vehicle speeds, in excess of 150 mph is attainable. One impressed customer said: “The HPY performance was excellent on the dry handling circuit and I will be replacing my own car tyres with the HPY…GT Radial tyres are a superb product,” Paul Edgehill, DTE Tyres.
Adventuro M/T tyres were put to the test by the day’s participants through a tough and demanding off-road 4×4 course; with hill climbs, descents and water crossings. “The 4×4 track was brill, but to be fair the whole experience was…It’s given me a lot better product knowledge.” Jon Thomas, Harris Brothers.
In parallel to this and as a prelude to the following week’s truck demonstration, participants were offered a ride in a racing truck driven on GT Radial 279 tyres by Stuart Oliver racing at speeds over 100mph. Robert Gates of Gates Tyres stated: “With over forty years experience in the tyre business and the many opportunities to test various tyres coupled with years of experience racing historic cars, I would have no hesitation in recommending and using the new GT Radial car tyre.”