Bike tyre manufacturer Metzeler has launched a new interactive blogging website with stories, images and videos contributed by a diverse line-up of its racers and adventurers. Ridexperience.com has reports from multi World Enduro Champion David Knight, trials legend Dougie Lampkin, Metzeler Superstock Champion Jon Kirkham, around the World explorer Tiffany Coates and stunt girl team ‘Stunt Starz’ amongst others. Since their launch in 2007, Metzeler says its community websites have “grown in numbers and gathered momentum all over the world”.
The latest market data released by GfK suggests Malaysia's passenger car tyre business recorded sales of over US$78 million during the fourth quarter of 2010. The analysts also reported increased popularity of American and European tyres in the market.
"It is not unusual for quarter four to register stronger demands as major festivities like Hari Raya, Christmas and school holidays all take place during the last few months of the year," commented Jennifer Chan, general manager of GfK Malaysia. "In preparation for heavier usage of their cars for visitations and long drives, car owners tend to send their vehicles for their due servicing which includes replacing their worn out tyres, around this period of time."
Essex-based Ovenden Papers has used Michelin tyres on its delivery vehicles for a while, but chose to fit budget brand solid rubber tyres across its industrial fleet – until now, following a puncture-free 12 month trial of the XZM radial tyre. Joint managing director James Ovenden says: “We have been both surprised and impressed by the differences between economy tyres and Michelin fitments for our forklifts. The trial that Michelin set up lasted 750 hours, which is much longer than we are used to, and there were no punctures at all – even though we operate on high-risk surfaces.
A bright new office environment and the company’s relatively young team make CDP Group’s enthusiasm palpable. The impression is that they work with commitment to a project they believe in and are proud of. Based in Forlì, Italy, CDP Group SpA, which started from scratch only three years ago, is now amongst the top ten tyre distributors in Italy, with 2010 revenues of more than 38 million euros.
So what’s the secret of the company’s success? Andrea Reggi, CDP Group CEO, explained: "Our business is founded on the idea of a public company: we all work as if the company is a fund with the sole objective to create profitability, not sales. What counts for us is to create value."
Netherlands tyre wholesaler S&H Tyres was founded in 2002 by Simon Klapwijk and Henk van Dijk, who opened the tyre wholesale company in “a little village under the smoke of Rotterdam,” in S and H’s own words. Rotterdam’s status as one of the biggest container ports in the world is not insignificant; S&H has a logistics centre 20 minutes away from the port. It is this kind of proximity that gives S&H an advantage in moving with international tyre-buying trends, the company believes.
Forward thinking companies have been investing in IT solutions as part of their business strategy for some time, but according to software supplier those investing in downtimes such as now are making the wisest decision.
“Whilst the temptation for many is to spend as little as possible on IT infrastructure, the reality is that a business that invests in their computer system to help perform the back office tasks in a branch, release staff to provide better customer service and concentrate on maximising margin. This is particularly important in the tough trading times the industry is currently experiencing,” company representatives wrote in a statement sent to Tyres & Accessories on 28 February.
The CEO of Karachi based tyre manufacturer General Tyre and Rubber of Pakistan, Shahid Hussain, has told Pakistan’s Daily Times that under invoiced imports and smuggling accounts for 57 per cent of local sales for passenger car tyres, 85 per cent for light truck tyres and 97 per cent for truck and bus tyres. These two activities not only impact upon manufacturing capacities at the tyre maker, which incidentally is which is 9.78 per cent owned by Continental and operates a technical service agreement with Continental Tire the Americas; Hussain states it is costing Pakistan’s government around 7 billion rupees (£50.4 million) in lost duties and taxes.
The China Economic News Service reports that the Taiwan’s based Formosa Plastics Group (FPG) intends to invest US$300 million establishing a synthetic rubber production facility in China’s Zheijiang Province. Construction of the plant Ningbo plant is expected to begin in October 2011 with volume production commencing in two years’ time. Initial output is given at 50,000 tons of IIR (isobutylene-isoprene rubber) per annum, with the tyre industry tipped to be the largest consumer of this. CENS reports that growing domestic demand from Chinese tyre makers has triggered FPG’s entry into the rubber industry. Furthermore, the company is said to be contemplating three other China based projects related to tyre production; these would require a further investment of $200 million.
As we have seen in the opening article of this year’s 4×4 feature, despite the current high fuel prices and doom and gloom of the economy, the 4×4 vehicle parc seems to grow unhindered. However Stapleton’s believe the high running costs associated with 4x4s are leading consumers to monitor their spending more closely, with many looking to make savings on their purchases.
“We aim to have one of the most comprehensive ranges of tyres in the market. In order to help retailers who may be feeling the effects of the current economic climate, with some consumers looking to spend less per visit, we offer a range of 4×4 tyres including our exclusive brands Matador and Nexen, which have sizes for all high-performance vehicles and SUVs,” said Steve Parker, Stapleton’s trading director, adding:
Marix UK, the sole Marix tyre wholesaler in the UK keeps a stockholding of over 5000 tyres at any given time and offers what the company calls “full backup with a technical helpline.”
Marix tyres come with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty, with company representatives explaining that retreading “represents the best way to help the environment and at the same time save money, so much so that the process is actively supported by the EU.”
Taiwan’s Federal Tires is calling 2011 its “year of motorsports” as it continues to develop its product portfolio, which includes the FZ-101, FZ-201, FZ-202 on track and the Federally G-10 and G-11 rallying tyres. The FZ-201 is used in four motorsports series – the Nippon Challenge in UK; the Rally Tarmac Championship; Malaysian Super Series Championship; and the Sepang 1000km (S1K) Endurance and Touring Car categories.
Titan International returned to the black last year after recording a year-end net income of US$0.4 million, boosted by a final quarter that was, as described by company chairman and CEO Maurice M. Taylor Jr., “better than what we thought it was going to be.” In 2009 the United States based off-road tyre maker experienced a net loss of $24.6 million. Net income in this ‘better than expected’ fourth quarter amounted to $0.7 million; a year earlier Titan International made a loss of $30.7 million in the final quarter. Titan reached its annual net result on the back of sales of $881.6 million, a year-on-year increase of 21.1 per cent, and operational income of $40.9 million. Fourth quarter 2010 sales were $232.7 million, up 58.8 per cent year-on-year, while the quarter’s gross margin was up from a loss of $0.8 in 2009 to $26.0 million last year.
Maxxis’ specialist mud terrain tyres, like the Bighorn MT-762, enhanced their credentials after being voted runner up in a comparison test by popular consumer magazine Australian 4WD Action. During a week of testing journalist Scott Butler compared all-terrain, mud-terrain and road-going 4x4s to assess traction and handing, carrying out braking distance and high-speed swerve tests, noise testing and driving tests in sand, dirt, hills and mud. The Maxxis tyre, which was up against BFGoodrich, Cooper and Mickey Thompson, was rated the best specialist mud tyre as well as second overall.
Following Jarno Trulli’s less than complimentary assessment of the current Pirelli Formula One tyre (see link below), Williams technical director Sam Michael has countered that “from a time period point of view, Pirelli have done a fantastic job.” Michael pointed out the continuing development Pirelli is completing and the fact that the inevitable differences in the tyre is a challenge the teams will need to engage with, since the change of supplier at the end of the 2010 season.
When it comes to the development of the 4×4 tyre segment, there are still two sides to the market, according to a Continental UK analysis. But on one side at least there are clear signs of the car-ification of 4×4 tyre line, something that has developed in parallel with continued purchase of SUV type four wheelers.