Tyre makers keen to work with materials manufacturers, says Lanxess
The results of a study involving questionnaires and face-to-face interviews with more than 70 experts from 32 tyre makers, including all top 20 suppliers, show 85 per cent of the companies questioned expect the new EU tyre labelling regulation will significantly impact their daily businesses. Most of those questioned also view the regulation as an opportunity rather than a burden.
Chemical manufacturer Lanxess appointed consulting company Stratley Portfolio Performance Incorporated to carry out the survey of decision makers from the marketing and development departments at 32 tyre makers, a group whose combined annual sales amount to around US$130 billion, the equivalent of 84 per cent of global tyre sales. Not surprisingly, the survey focused upon the changing relevance of Lanxess products such as styrene-butadiene rubber grades (SSBR) and Neodymium based Performance Butadiene Rubber (Nd-PBR) to the industry.
Lanxess reports that those interviewed as part of the study consider SSBR to be an “absolute must” in the production of high performance tyres, particularly in combination with silica fillers. It adds that the study’s findings led the company to believe that within a few years SSBR will have “significantly overtaken” conventional emulsion-styrene-butadiene rubber (ESBR); Lanxess projects that in five years’ time, twice as much SSBR will be used in car tyres as ESBR. “It seems paradoxical, but cheap tyres made only of conventional types of rubber have simply become too expensive for cost and environmentally conscious consumers,” commented Joachim Grub, head of Lanxess’ Performance Butadiene Rubbers business unit.
A significant role in the assessment of SSBR high performance elastomers is played not only by the improved performance of the products manufactured from them but also by questions of processability, the specialty chemicals manufacturer adds. Furthermore, Lanxess says those surveyed are “extremely interested” in how the SSBR grades currently available will continue to develop, as the supply of ever better green tyres will largely depend on the provision of increasingly refined SSBR grades. It says the sector is therefore “very much in favour” of working closely with raw material manufacturers such as Lanxess.