An ‘unbeatable package’ of performance & price: UK launch for Alliance 372 VF
During the summer Alliance Tire Group began showing off its Agri Star II Alliance 372 Agriflex+ VF and lines. The first of these debuted at the LAMMA show in January, but both tyres came to market during the first corona lockdown. Tyrepress.com saw these products in action on a farm in Germany a couple of months back, but the UK’s second lockdown put paid to plans for a real-world 372 VF launch over here. So instead of togging up in extra-thick jackets and pulling on our wellies, on 1 December we headed over to the virtual farm and caught up with ATG and Kirkby Tyres, who exclusively distributes the Alliance brand in the UK and Ireland.
In addition to presenting its new product, ATG shared the findings of comparative testing involving the 372 VF alongside premium VF and IF tyres.
Alliance 372 VF
The first thing farmers may notice about that 372 Agriflex+ VF is that it isn’t a new pattern. The improved flexion Agriflex 372 has been around for a number of years, but ATG has now upgraded the tyre’s construction and rubber compound.
Introducing the latest, very high flexion version of the 372, Ole Baek stresses that an agricultural tyre’s “worst enemy” is stones and stubble – indeed, anything that eats away at the tread pattern. To rout this adversary, ATG makes the 372 VF using a ‘Stubble Guard’ compound. “Stubble Guard gives the rubber a much higher density and therefore more resistance to stubble and stone damage,” explains ATG’s marketing manager for Northern Europe. ATG has also upgraded the tyre’s construction to better integrate its different layers. “This is paramount when a tyre flexes a lot,” Baek adds.
The compound offers improved resistance to cuts and stubble damage, high structural stability and reliable heat resistance during cycling field operations (CFO), even at 0.8 bar inflation pressure. ATG gave the updated tyre rounded lug shoulders, larger footprint and higher lug angles for better soil protection and self-cleaning.
All 28 dimensions – Ole Baek calls this the “biggest variety of VF sizes in the industry” – have a D speed rating for use at up to 40mph. Alliance offers the tyre with the 10-year warranty it now provides on all steel-belted agricultural tyres. “This warranty is currently best in class,” Baek comments. Alliance Tire Group manufactures the 372 VF at its plant in Hadera, Israel.
Independent testing confirms performance
Earlier this year, ATG commissioned independent research performed at IRSTEA (National Research Institute of Science & Technology for Environment & Agriculture) in France to confirm the 372 VF’s performance. “The recent field tests at IRSTEA were conducted on behalf of our R&D department to test the latest improvements of the tyre”, explains Baek. “In the course of transforming the complete Alliance IF tyre portfolio to VF, our engineers looked for additional features to further enhance soil protection, improve tyre performance and reduce structural strains in these highly flexible tyres.”
IRSTEA performed four field tests under defined conditions: fuel efficiency, traction, slip in soft soil and footprint breadth. It tested Alliance 372 VF and IF tyres against two similar patterns from a premium brand competitor in size 600/70R30 (front) and 710/70R42 (rear). Inflation pressure was constant at 1.6 bar (23.2 psi) for the front tyres whilst the load varied between 4375 daN (IF) and 5150 daN (VF). For the rear tyres, the load was constant at 4875 daN whilst tyre inflation pressure varied between 1 bar (14.5 psi) for the IF tyres and 0.8 bar (11.6 psi) for the VF. When presenting the test results, the Alliance IF tyre has a reference baseline of 100 per cent.
What did IRSTEA’s testing show? Baek summarises the results: “The Alliance 372 VF is roughly on a par with the competition’s VF tyres. But since the Alliance tyres are offered at a significantly lower price, the performance together with low total operating costs result in an unbeatable package” He adds that a brief market survey on gross retail tyre pricing indicates that the Alliance 372 VF costs 23 to 36 per cent less than IF tyres sold by premium competitors and is priced 40 to 49 per cent below premium competitors’ VF tyres.
In line with post-Brexit farming
The UK government intends to begin phasing out the current EU system of direct payments to farmers for each hectare of land owned in 2021. These subsidies will likely be history by 2028.
Michael Rosenthal thus views the 372 VF’s arrival as timely for Kirkby Tyres. Commenting on government plans to replace the aforementioned subsidies with incentives for improving productivity and protecting the environment, Kirkby Tyres’ marketing manager states: “VF tyres are designed to run at lower pressures, which protects valuable crops and thus increases yields. This is all very much in line with the UK government’s intentions for farming in a post-Brexit world.”