Conti: UK passenger car market “stable” at 33 million units

Continental estimates that the 2011 UK car, 4×4 and van tyre market will equate to 33 million units despite estimates from other leading tyre manufacturers earlier in the year suggesting demand could have been in for a double digit drop. Speaking at the tyremaker’s annual market trends briefing in London, executives from Conti’s UK operation (Continental Tyre Group Ltd) explained that the market has “remained static, with a number of evident developments, such as an increase in the part worn market due to the scrappage scheme.” Continental now estimates that part worn sales equate to 2 – 3 million units a year, with sales of these used products estimated to have increased by up to 50 per cent of the traditional and widely accepted 2 million units annually figure.

According to the company, the replacement car tyre market shows some signs of decline year-on-year decline when you look at 13 and 14-inch rim sizes. However, the decline in 15 inch-orientated products has slowed and the share is now said to be stabilising at around 26 per cent, whilst 16-based has seen marginal growth at 28 per cent and remains both the leading diameter and home of the single most popular size – 205/55 R16 (now over 13 per cent of the market alone). The trend towards wider tyres with bigger rim diameters continues through original equipment, with increasing demand for tyres 17 inches and above in the replacement market. The share of 17-inch fitments and above now represents just over 25 per cent of the replacement market.

The decline in 195/65R15 has slowed and has reportedly “stabilised”. The 225/45 R17 W/Z retains its third position ranking, while the 225/40 R18 XL W/Z continues its growth becoming the first 18-inch size to enter the top 10.

Interestingly, there are signs of the run-flat market’s growth and longevity with this niche family of products, surpassing expectations. This time last year Continental predicted that run-flats would account for five per cent of the market. However, despite BMW demoting its supply of these tyres from standard to option, demand is still seen as good with actual 2011 shares showing that run-flat take-up has now surpassing the 5 per cent target.

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