In addition to the latest news and analysis, July’s edition of Tyres & Accessories features the aftermarket, van tyres as well the agricultural/industrial/speciality tyre sector. The latter has proved to be amongst the most resilient sectors during the turbulence of the last year or so. The former two reflect changing market dynamics. In short, many things have changed in the automotive and tyre spaces. And the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated that change. But some things stay the same.
The consumer tyre advice site WhatTyre and a new paywall-free digital archive of Tyres & Accessories magazine lead a range of new services from Tyre Industry Publications.
The 75-year milestone for Tyres & Accessories magazine is not just a moment for retrospection. Our industry is in a state of technologically inspired flux. The past 18 months of crisis and upheaval have also been a catalyst for increasing the pace of change. At Tyre Industry Publications (TIP), we have taken this opportunity to consider the role our independent tyre industry media outlets play in the rapidly changing present and future. Our value-added information continues to offer a vital service to the tyre business but presenting this information in the right way for our readers is crucial. It also presents the ideal place for the most targeted advertising to trade buyers and – with our new consumer facing site WhatTyre – in-market audiences.
Three-quarters of a century and still going strong
This month we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Tyres & Accessories back in June 1946. Looking back to those immediate post-war years, comparisons can be made with the emergence from lockdown 75 years later. In the post-war period, the then still pioneering automotive business played a key role in the recovery process along with the intrinsically connected tyre trade. This time round, if the adaptability and resilience of the tyre business during the last 18 months of Covid-19-related disruption is anything to go by, things will follow a similar pattern. In both cases such events evoke genuine gratitude for the contacts, customers and friends we all have in the business. So, it is in that spirit that we begin the 75th anniversary celebrations that will continue throughout the month of June here at the front of the magazine and in a special 20-page section that begins on page 32.
The “Ever Given” logjam highlights tyre price increases pressures
As the April edition of Tyres & Accessories went to press, the story of the Ever Given – the 400-metre long container ship that got wedged in the Suez canal – was getting a surprising amount of news coverage. The spectacle of a ship the length of four football pitches was enough to capture the attention of many. For others, the anecdotes of tenacious tug pilots and plucky digger drivers trying to free the gargantuan vessel from its unscheduled moorings did the trick. But for those in the tyre trade – and hundreds of other lines of work connected with global logistics – there were solid business reasons for their interest. “How many boxes have you got on the Ever Given?”, one tyre wholesaler asked. “It’s times like this…”, the other comically replied leaving the rest of his reply to the imagination.
We need to torque about speed ratings: power, speed and electric vehicle tyre fitments
Pirelli’s “power is nothing without control” strapline is well-known and apt. But, as we move further into the era of electric vehicles, should we be thinking: speed-ratings mean nothing without considering torque? In July 2003 my predecessor Peter Gardner published “Let’s torque speed ratings”, an editorial article that followed suggestions from within the tyre business that we reconsider what we mean by those letter values so-often tagged onto the end of tyre sizes. The discussion was specifically prompted by Stephen Marsh (then of Stapleton’s Tyre Services) who made the point that the power transference properites of millennial engines is as important as the absolute speed capability of tyres. In other words, when recommending products, the tyre business should be just as concerned about a vehicle’s torque demands as its top-speed capability.
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 our what exactly were the top 10 stories of 2020.
Brexit, Covid and shipping cost increases point to tyre price hikes in 2021
After months of mounting pressure on UK ports, the automotive industry is bearing visible signs of strain. Specifically, Honda UK halted production at its Swindon factory in December 2020 because it couldn’t get the right parts in time to continue production. But the ramifications don’t end there. General UK tyre supply is likely to be impacted too. And the result of the Brexit and Covid market pressures as well as shipping cost increases are likely to result in tyre industry price hikes during 2021.
On 23 November, Oxford Dictionaries declared that “unprecedented” is the word of year. Normally the world famous English language experts choose just one word to sum up the preceding 12 months, but such was the cumulative uniqueness of the series of events that has characterised 2020, this year they chose several “words of an unprecedented year” – a move that is itself unprecedented. So why not use their zeitgeist-capturing collection of novel verbiage as a way of reviewing 2020 from a tyre business perspective?
Our virtual Tyre Industry Conference, in association with the National Tyre Distributors Association and supported by CAM, is available now. Click here to go to our conference page. The conference comprises four videos on Tyre Market Data, Tyre Standards, end of Life Tyres, and Tyre Recycling. If you would like to comment on any of the contents, use our social media pages and the hashtag #TIC2020, or email email@example.com.
It is somewhat ironic that the number 2020 has inherent associations with perfect vision and yet this year has turned out to be the most unpredictable in a lifetime. For example, no-one saw President Trump’s twitter-borne sideswipe at Goodyear’s tyres coming last month – how could they? However, on a more serious note, the effects of uncertainty has real-life impact. And this month has seen more than its fair share of such harsh realities in the tyre industry.
This article appears in full in the October edition of Tyres & Accessories magazine. Not yet a subscriber? You can change that here.
This publication stands by a long-standing precedent of being a-political. Rather like the saying that it is bad manners to talk religion or politics while dining, we have historically opted not to take a line on such issues. Propriety aside, there is another particular good reason for this approach. During the nearly eight decades since Tyres & Accessories was published in 1946, 16 prime ministers and many more governments have come and gone, but one thing has remained: the motoring public’s demand for tyres has continued and even grown in the medium and long-term. But this column isn’t finishing school, so why the discussion on protocol? We don’t normally engage in politics, but this month politics engaged with the tyre business more directly than ever before when US President Donald Trump told US motorists: “Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES”, adding: “Get better tires [sic] for far less!” (see pages President Trump attacks Goodyear for further details of the furore).
The road to recovery – MOT spikes, diagnostics and all-season tyres in context
With the UK and many other European countries having experienced three months of lockdown, most sources are predicting full-year 2020 car tyre sales declines of around 25 per cent. The most optimistic appear to be suggesting 10 per cent drop, but how likely is a 90 per cent recovery by the end of the year? The good news is that there are reasons to suggest the post-lockdown tyre market is on the road to recovery.
Looking forward to recovery – be it L, U or V-shaped
Last month this column considered the range of 2020 market projections that existed. In short, as the column concluded, the consensus is that tyre demand will decline somewhere between 15 and 26 per cent during the course of this year. However, such a conclusion may also be on the conservative side. Certainly, when you talk with tyre wholesalers and distributors on the ground, some of those that didn’t opt to close their doors for a few weeks experienced even more marked declines in the short-term. Reports of tyre shops running on demand 70 to 75 per cent less than pre-lockdown levels are not uncommon. And yet, as lockdown eases across various UK and European markets – as well as beyond – the focus is quite rightly shifting to recovery.
Things are changing so quickly at the moment that most analyses end up little more than speculation two weeks later. That’s why Tyrepress contains both the latest news and seeks to set such developments into their medium- and long-term contexts. Take our Tyre Retail coverage for example (see 2020 UK tyre retail ranking and Which garages are open during lockdown) where we list both the current proportions of open tyre retailers and analyse the overall UK tyre retail landscape in its seven-year context.
By the time you read this a quarter of the world will be on some kind of lockdown along with virtually every car plant in Europe and many tyre factories. We are in uncharted territory. And, as ETRMA secretary general Fazilet Cinaralp said recently, we have to brace ourselves for “one of the biggest challenges our industry has ever faced”. And yet there have already been numerous examples of endeavour, enterprise and generosity in the face of such adversity.