What 2022’s most popular tyre industry stories tell us about the future
Those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. The well-known saying might not be completely transferable to this column, but as we kick-start 2023 analysing the most popular stories on our Tyrepress.com website does help us understand what the major themes of last year were. And a closer look at those themes will reveal which issues are continuing into this year. January’s magazine focuses on the ever-resilient agricultural tyre sector (see Tyres & Accessories, January, page 36 onwards) as well as the latest developments in the TPMS and sensor technology segment (see page 20), but first let’s take a look at the biggest stories of 2022 as recorded online.
During 2022, Tyrepress.com achieved a total of more than 1.2 million pageviews. And with readers coming from across the UK, Europe and the world, it gives us a pretty good sample size for deriving insights into which issues are resonating with readers in our majority Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) markets.
Led out by our annual ranking of the world’s leading tyre makers by turnover “World’s leading tyre companies 2022: Michelin and Bridgestone neck and neck for pole position” which was published in June, the three most popular stories of the last 12 months were all ranking-based articles. Number two was “Top 10 automotive suppliers 2022: Three tyremakers remain”, which was also published in June and set the same kind of data in the context of the wider automotive supplier sector. Number three compared the relative size of China’s top 10 stock market listed tyre makers (“The top 10 listed Chinese tyre companies 2022”). Apart from the obvious inference that people like rankings stories, one thing the clear popularity of such articles reminds us is that the external macro pressures brought about by the war and pandemic have only made things more competitive – a trend that is likely to continue into 2023.
It was no surprise to see “Cooper to close Melksham factory 2023 consultation” amongst the top stories of 2022. An inevitable impact of Cooper’s acquisition by Goodyear, the closure of a factory that housed the EMEA headquarters of Cooper, has obvious general interest but includes a myriad of individual stories. As outgoing Cooper customer services manager EMEA Denise Smith reflected in a leaving note after 24 years with the company, “I first joined Cooper Avon Tyres in June 1998, and have had an incredible journey. I have worked with so many wonderful colleagues and customers across the globe and loved the responsibility and challenges of my role at each stage of my progressional career. The culture was like family. So many memories of amazing times shared (sad ones too) and lifelong friendships. There has been collaboration through some difficult times and celebrations of the business successes….” Since the integration of the Cooper business into the wider Goodyear operation remains ongoing and since the wider market circumstances that led to the takeover remain, it is likely that we will learn more about both the general and particular aspects of this story during the next 12 months too.
Top 10 Tyrepress texts 2022
- World’s leading tyre companies 2022: Michelin and Bridgestone neck and neck for pole position
- Top 10 automotive suppliers 2022: Three tyremakers remain
- The top 10 listed Chinese tyre companies 2022
- Cooper to close Melksham factory 2023 consultation
- Chinese truck tyre tariffs annulled
- Yokohama confirms 2.1-billion-euro Trelleborg Wheel Systems Acquisition
- Michelin the most valuable and strongest tyre brand 2022
- How will war in Ukraine impact European tyre production
- Kumho to launch ECSTA HS52 high performance summer tyre
- Continental halts tyre exports from Russian plant
“Chinese truck tyre tariffs annulled” immediately shot to the top of the most-read charts when it was published in May. And since the impact of tariffs reverberates amongst Chinese brands, premium manufacturers, wholesalers and tyre retailers, that’s no surprise to find it in fifth position. What is less predictable is exactly what will happen next. And, in the case of the UK especially, how any European decisions will be implemented locally. The UK, for example, due to a strange twist of the ongoing Brexit story at one point it emerged that the UK is effectively hanging onto the original European ruling on the basis that it didn’t have to recognise the European court ruling at the heart of the annulment.
Likewise, sixth-placed “Yokohama confirms 2.1-billion-euro Trelleborg Wheel Systems Acquisition”, which was itself confirmation of the news we broke in December 2021, was an unsurprising part of the top 10. Not only does the deal mark a major additional move towards the off-highway tyre sector on the part of the Yokohama, it also illustrates how consolidation remains a major route to growth on the part of the top 10 tyremakers. Therefore, for both reasons and because the closing date of the Yokohama-TWS deal was recently put back, we should expect to hear more on this during the year.
Places eight and nine are occupied by Russia-Ukraine war articles “How will war in Ukraine impact European tyre production” and “Continental halts tyre exports from Russian plant” respectively. As we predicted back in March, the war has a massive impact on the wider tyre business whether from the en masse departure from Russia by major tyre manufacturers or from the knock-on impact of carbon black sourcing and supply. Some of those challenges have been overcome by the tyre industry during 2022, however the war remains ongoing and so the impact is likely to continue too.
In other words, looking back on 2022 reveals a highly competitive and somewhat turbulent year in the tyre business. And the specific themes of resilience, legislation and consolidation remain key points to be aware of during the next 12 months too.
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