The top tyre stories of 2020
Even for the best forward-planners, 2020 was a year of surprises. And while the word “unprecedented” has been worn out during the last 12 months, it is difficult to find another more appropriate term. With everything from business closures, to a global pandemic (and with the pandemic resulting in lockdowns, factory closures and spikes in online and mobile tyre business), there certainly has been a lot going on. That’s why in January we crunched the numbers relating to our website traffic in order to find out what exactly were the top 10 stories of 2020.
The 10th most read story was “Tyre Reviews recommends 5 all-season tyres as Goodyear wins test”. Apart from the fact that our coverage of independent European tyre tests always attracts strong readership figures, the 10th-placed article is likely to have drawn in readers because it picked up on at least two more key themes: the growth of all-season sell-out sales and Goodyear’s strong performance in the all-season tyre sector.
Goodyear will no-doubt also be pleased to see that “Goodyear’s new EfficientGrip Performance 2 offers 20 per cent more mileage than Michelin” achieved ninth position. Again, comparison testing is always a popular approach, but Goodyear’s confidence in its EfficientGrip Performance product extended to declaring its mileage superiority against one of the oldest and largest tyremakers in the world will also have attracted interest.
Our 8th placed article: “Coronavirus’s impact on the tyre business” demonstrates the inevitably topical nature of the top 10. This text, which was written at a time when the world saw coronavirus as something of a Chinese problem, highlights the interconnectedness of the global tyre business. Paired, as it was, with “1 million fewer cars – coronavirus’s impact on automotive production” these texts sought to help prepare the market for what might come next. Of course, we had no idea of the enormity of what was coming. Indeed, the editorial team questioned whether we would be perceived as spending too much time on what was then seen to be a Far-Eastern crisis. In retrospect, perhaps we didn’t give enough time analysing what became a unique global challenge.
“Bridgestone to close Bethune, France plant” was our 7th most popular article in 2020. Not only did this address how some of the more immediate effects of the pandemic related to the acceleration of industrial plans that sought to increase the optimisation and efficiency of European manufacturing included job losses and factory closures, our continuing coverage of this subject also looks at what happens next. In the case of Bridgestone’s Bethune plant, now that government support options have been exhausted and that talks relating to the search for a buyer for the site are well-developed, our coverage is now looking forward to the identity of the sites new owner. The latest we have heard is that Bridgestone and its partners have contacted over 700 companies in the hunt for a new owner. 24 options remains in mid-December 2020. Two of the prospective options relate the sale of the site to other tyre manufacturers. Five of the identified projects concern the installation of new activities on the site in tyre and rubber fields as well as batteries and other sectors. Two of the proposals relate to “the installation of activities outside the site”. Nine projects were said to be in the study phase.
Lockdown, business and factory closures as well as product launches the most prominent stories
Despite the continued and obvious challenges facing the European and global tyre industry, the business remains as competitive as ever. The fact that our sixth most read story was “Pirelli and Hankook continue close rivalry in list of leading tyre manufacturers” sums this up. Michelin, the world’s most valuable brand
Our coverage of the various global brand ranking metrics also garnered significant amounts of attention, with “Michelin remains the world’s strongest brand” and “Michelin remains the world’s strongest brand” particular drawing traffic. At the same time, it is worth mentioning that our annual ranking of the world’s largest tyremakers – which found that Bridgestone remains the largest tyremaker in the world, for 2020, at least – was also one of our most read pages.
Reports that “Kwik-Fit owner Itochu is prepare[d] for sale scenario” represent the 5th most read story at tyrepress.com. With around 750 Itochu-owned tyre retail locations run through the Japanese conglomerate’s European Tyre Enterprises Ltd (ETEL) subsidiary and with the vast majority of these branded Kwik Fit, it is no surprise to learn that the market was interested in finding our more about the background to this headline. As we go to press, there has been no official confirmation of the reports, but it is difficult to deny that – in the context of the original reports – our follow reporting that “Itochu sold 26 Kwik-Fit freeholds in the first half of 2020” looks a lot like sale preparation.
At the start of the year the collapse of Fintyre’s Germany tyre businesses impacted not onl employees, but also the wider market. With this in mind, it and it was no surprise to discover that articles such as “Fintyre Group’s Reifen Krieg files for bankruptcy” and “German Fintyre group almost completely in bankruptcy” were the 4th and 11th most read stories respectively.
Product launches are regular features in our top stories lists. However, “Michelin launching CrossClimate 2” did particularly well and ended up being the 3rd best read story of 2020, something that is likely to be a reflection of the success of the leading French tyremaker’s groundbreaking year-round tyre – the CrossClimate.
The news that Continental is closing its Aachen Germany tyre factory was a tragedy for the thousands of workers employed. Manufacturing facilities had always faced the challenge of demonstrating the productivity in the face of low-cost production bases, but certain mature market manufacturing operations such as Continental’s Aachen location had held their own in recent years. However, the wider automotive industry’s transition to electric vehicles and new ownership models combined with the negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic appears to have put paid that, resulting in coverage that was Tyrepress.com’s second most read in 2020.
Answering your lockdown questions
However, our editorial coverage of the tyre businesses response to lockdown was the most popular story of the year. With 12,000 pageviews on its own, “Will tyre dealers stay open in a lockdown?” sought to answer your lockdown questions before the nation went into lockdown and before there was any official decision on the matter by looking at the examples of the Italian and US markets that were already in lockdowns of their own. It is gratifying for us to know that this, as well as the many follow-up articles plus our first “Kick-starting your tyre business” webinar in May 2020 and the inaugural Virtual Tyre Industry conference were had this impact. After all, throughout this turbulent our work has centred on this goal: to help you in the tyre business do the invaluable work you do to keep Britain, Europe and indeed the world rolling.