Strong growth continues in 4×4/SUV tyre market

As SUV/4×4 car market continues to buck trend, opportunity beckons for sub-premium tyre manufacturers

Earlier in the year, Tyres & Accessories visited the Goodyear Innovation Center Luxembourg, where the manufacturer focused on the current SUV and 4×4 segment. Growth in sales of these vehicles has been robust for a considerable period; Goodyear representatives cited IHS Automotive EMEA region figures that suggest sales of new SUVs are expected to exceed 6 million units in 2017, up from fewer than 4 million five years ago, with further growth projected to produce regional sales at 8 million new SUVs in 2022. The SUV/4×4 tyre market is, of course, following suit: in Europe (including Turkey), ETRMA Europool data projects sales of 18 million in 2017.

Though this is a market only a tenth the size of passenger car tyres, rising new vehicle registrations and a growing aftermarket in the coming years means we can look forward to compound growth rate of 9.8 per cent in the SUV/4×4 tyre segment between 2012 and 2022, with a share expected to be double that of 2012 levels (about 23.4 million units, or 12 per cent of a 195 million tyre total).

Martijn De Jonge, brand director for Goodyear’s Consumer PBU EMEA, added that the trend away from utility (or off-road) applications to on-road has meant that the subsequent growth in tyre demand has been for products with characteristics akin to high performance car tyres – hence the trend for producing SUV versions of existing car tyre products.

De Jonge also showed that the average SUV owner is older than the average car owner (46 per cent are 45 and over), more safety conscious, and likely to have a higher income. Naturally this is good news for premium brands in this sector – older motorists demanding high levels of safety, with buying power to match these wants, are more likely to pay the higher price for a premium brand tyre. De Jonge reported that Goodyear SUV/4×4 tyre sales within this segment have “grown in line” with the market over recent years, for example.

However, these facts do not diminish interest in the market for brands operating within sub-premium price brackets. The injection of new SUVs into the market – while sales of regular cars have begun to level off or fall in some major markets (including the UK) in 2017 – means that the health of the used car market will subsequently increase, extending the accessibility of such vehicles to more price conscious motorists. Putting such vehicles, and their demand for appropriate fitments, increasingly into the hands of motorists outside the demographics Goodyear has identified as dominant in this segment is likely to lead to growth in cheaper tyres within the segment, sold as the second replacements. The more prominent sub-premium brands and their distributors have reacted accordingly to the growth of SUVs, making a greater range of tyres available to European motorists in this segment.

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