2011 a ‘peak’ year for winter tyre sales
Statistics shared at Continental’s recent European ContiWinterRoadshow indicate that a total of 73.8 million winter passenger car and 4×4 tyres were sold in Western Europe last year and a further 18.7 million in Central Europe. These figures are up 12.8 per cent and 10.7 per cent year-on-year respectively. Last year’s sale of 92.5 million units is viewed as a ‘peak’ for winter tyres; Continental says it expects sales to stabilise at around 90 million by 2015. This year, the German manufacturer anticipates that both the Western and Central European markets will experience a moderate decline; it estimates 65.8 million winter passenger car and 4×4 tyres will be sold in Western Europe and 17.7 million in Central Europe.
“Last year, around 23 million more tyres were sold in Europe than in 2007, the year before the economic and financial crisis,” stated the tyre maker in a presentation. “Market researchers at Continental calculated a figure of 218 million. At more than 90 million, winter tyres already make up more than 40 per cent of this total, increasing by a good 10 million year-on-year.”
As Continental observes, Germany is the traditional “heavyweight” amongst the European sales markets. Last year, German dealers ordered around 35 million winter tyres – one and a half million more than in the boom year of 2010. Almost 90 per cent of car drivers in Germany change their tyres every season. But even citizens in countries yet to introduce winter tyre laws are adopting winter tyres, for example in Italy – a country with around 37 million cars –where around 8.6 million winter tires were sold this year. A further five million winter tyres were sold in France.
Conti’s figures show that premium tyres are slowly but surely increasing their dominant presence in Western Europe’s winter passenger car tyre segment. Between 2007 and 2011, the segment market share held by premium products grew from 53.1 per cent to 60.4 per cent. This increase occurred at the expense of both the quality and budget segments, which within the same timeframe respectively declined from 34.1 per cent to 29.4 per cent and from 12.8 per cent to 8.5 per cent.
The picture in Central Europe is somewhat different. Despite declining slightly since 2009, the budget segment continues to dominate the region’s winter passenger car tyre market. According to the tyre maker’s own figures, last year budget purchases accounted for 47.3 per cent of the winter passenger market, down from 51.5 per cent in 2010 and 53.7 per cent in 2009. At the same time, the quality segment rose from 22.3 per cent in 2009 to 23.8 per cent in 2011, and the premium segment from 24.1 per cent in 2009 to 27.2 per cent last year.
Premium dominated the SUV winter tyre segment in both regions. Continental declares that “budget winter tyres no longer have any role to play” in the Western European market. Last year budget products captured precisely 0.0 per cent of the market, while premium products accounted for 87.1 per cent, up from 80.3 per cent a year earlier. Premium market share in Central Europe is even higher, at 95.1 per cent, up from 81.9 per cent in 2010. Budget products, which in 2010 accounted for 7.4 per cent of the market, had according to Conti’s figures a 0.0 per cent market share in Central Europe last year.