Wheelwright’s 2013 winter strategy
The unpredictable winter of 2012 may not have brought consistently high levels of snowfall, but according to Wheelwright it did see a flurry of another sort; a deluge of demand for winter wheel and tyre packages as consumers – and even UK-based automotive manufacturers – quickly wised up to their safety benefits. This year could be the most significant yet in market terms claims the Kent-based wheel distributor.
With winter sales growing, not only did 2012 represent an opportunity for add-on-sales and profits, but in the case of franchised dealers and marque-specific specialists Wheelright also highlight that these products offered the chance for a much-needed ‘touching point’ as Winter came around.
“We noticed a huge increase in dealer and specialist business over the past two years, explained Wheelwright Marketing Manager James Gray. “Not only is it a case of clever service managers giving their customers exactly what they need as temperatures drop, but in these days of ever-increasing service intervals and reliability, it can give dealers that all-important opportunity to sit down with their customers once a year and improve their chances of selling them something else…Subaru UK liked the philosophy so much that they actually added this facet to their grounding breaking ETCo package of aftersales care which includes it as part of every new car’s free dealer ‘perks’ package for three years.”
Wheelwright is following the below seven degrees logic common among winter tyre manufacturers – and especially on the continent. When temperatures dip below seven degrees Celcius braking distances from 62mph (100kph) can increase by up to 5m, from 65m to 70m, compared to summer or all-weather tyres. As we all know winter tyres are made of better suited tread compounds, which remains more flexible at low temperatures, giving excellent contact between the tyre and the road, thus retaining traction and grip. Their verdict: “using winter tyres really can help you avoid becoming another accident statistic”.
However, in addition to the safety benefits, Wheelwright is pointing to the cost benefits as well. Their rationale is that in the UK we often combat the ice and snow conditions using aggressive mineral compounds such as rock-salt or grit. These can inevitably damage the finish of OE or aftermarket alloy wheels. Having a second set of alloy or steel wheels for use during these conditions will increase the longevity of a vehicle’s summer wheels, and ensure they are not corroded by the salt and slush from the road. The idea is that this could save drivers a considerable amount of money in the longer term.
Luxury and logistics: promoting winter tyre fitment, wheel and tyre spas
As far as 2013 is concerned Wheelwright is confident that tyrebays will continue embrace the European winter model, pointing to a number of customers that have even created a ‘Wheel & Tyre Spa’ ethos, enabling customers to leave their summer wheels to be pampered over the winter months, with refurbs, cleaning and rebalancing all part of the package.
The headline development for Wheelwright’s winter offering this year is thanks, in the most part, to their logistics competences. The wheel firm offers alloy wheels on a set-by-set basis from its Alcar warehouse in Germany, but for 2013 the company can now also offer the plethora of OEM-spec KFZ steel wheels in the same vein, calling on their stocks in Austria, Italy and Switzerland. Consequently, the company reports that it can cover 90 per cent of the UK car parc with a bolt-on alloy or steel wheel and winter tyre solution.
Gray continued: “Even though winters in the UK can be erratic, even a couple of day’s snowfall here and there can bring the entire nation to a halt. You even see 4x4s struggling in the snow, as without grip, even their clever limited diffs can’t combat the lack of friction between tyre and road surface. The Europeans have been experiencing the benefits of being able to drive confidently and safely on winter roads for some years and the UK is progressively waking up to this too.”