MOT interval madness as the business faces 1 million more tests in 2022
OTR tyres, seasonal tyres (such as winter and all-season products) and the tyre retail business are our key features this month. As important as the development of the OTR and seasonal tyre segments undoubtedly is, the combination of tectonic shifts in the UK tyre retail landscape and transport secretary Grant Shapps’ decision to once again suggest changing MOT frequency have stolen my column’s attention this month. On the latter point, NTDA chief executive Stefan Hay was understandably riled to learn that Shapps is retreading the meddling-with-the-MOT path (something readers can read more about in the UK section of Mays magazine). Either way, renewed focus on MOT protocol is firmly connected with the ongoing development of the tyre retail business.
Ukraine war continues putting tyre production under pressure
At the start of the year this column predicted a positive 2022 for the tyre business on the basis that we are better prepared for the unknown because of the adaptions made during the last few pandemic years. I still believe that. But my thesis is being tested by the implications of the now month-long war in Ukraine. All our expectations are being tested. For example, never before have I received an email which switches from normal editorial matters to “our country has been invaded” from one line to the next.
How will war in Ukraine impact European tyre production?
The tragedy of war always has repercussions. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of February is no exception. With reports of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of people already displaced, the human cost is incalculable. While blood is being spilt in Ukraine at a horrifying rate, this war is being fought on at least three fronts: military, electronic and financial. The human cost of the military dimension is beyond the scope of this publication. Likewise, cyber-warfare is probably a bridge too far (unless we are talking about vehicle cyber security, which is of increasing importance right down to the aftermarket garage level – see pages 16 to 17 of our forthcoming March edition for more on this). The economic cost of the war in Ukraine, however, will have an inevitable impact on European tyre production directly due to conflict and indirectly due to logistics and the impact of sanctions.
Expansion – production has changed, but it is certainly ramping back up again
Last month, this column suggested that “acquisitions, consolidation and sustainability” were three words that will sum-up developments in the tyre business in 2022. Judging by what has taken place in the weeks since that text was published, the overall argument was pretty sound. However, in retrospect it also seems pretty clear that we could have, and perhaps should have, added in a fourth term – “expansion”.
Key tyre industry themes for 2022: acquisitions, consolidation and sustainability
A quick glance at our recent top 10 articles of 2021 email offers a unique overview of the major themes of the last 12 months. Since most of those issues are ongoing stories, they bring with them a useful insight into some of the things we can expect in 2022 – an insight that can be summarised by these three words: acquisitions, consolidation and sustainability.
The US Energy Information Administration recently forecast that the global light-duty vehicle fleet (essentially cars, vans and pick-ups) would increase by 70 per cent by 2050. Closer to home, the UK Department for Transport has forecast that car and van traffic will increase by 35 per cent and 70 per cent respectively over the next 30 years. By another measure and more immediately, global consumption of natural rubber for tyre manufacture is forecast to increase by 33 per cent by 2030.
Looking forward to a better 2022, despite “disruption”
At the end of the year, it is customary to look back at the preceding 12 months as well as to look forward at what the future has to hold. One way our culture sums up the past year is to nominate a fitting word that encapsulates the spirit of the age. Last year our word of the year was “unprecedented”. This year the (OED) Oxford English Dictionary word of 2021 is “vax”, which offers us all – as if it were needed – a reminder of the continuing presence of Covid-19 during the last year.
Our growing digital archive led to some blasts from the past
Earlier this year a retired tyre industry veteran got in touch to ask if we wanted any of his old copies of Tyres & Accessories. While our archives stretch all the way back to our first edition in 1946, outside the British Library there were some gaps in the first couple of decades. So, we jumped at the chance. The offer of vintage editions from the swinging 60s also comes at a time when we are working hard on digitising our back catalogue. So far, the 132 copies going back to 2010 have been through the process and are now available online. And the first decade of the millennium (2000 to 2010) is also well underway. From here, the goal is to work back in time until we have a full complement. So, should you want to look into the history of your company or find out what happened in the tyre business on an important date such as an anniversary – our digital archive will be there to help you reminisce. And if there is a particular historic article you think we should digitise sooner rather than later, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know which edition we should transfer to the digital realm and why.
Raw material as well as shipping costs to remain headwinds
At the start of 2021 we published a headline suggesting that “shipping costs [were] temporary” and “price increases less so”. While that article was based on the latest third-party data as well as the expert opinion of a leading wholesaler, it now looks like shipping cost woes are set to continue well into 2022 and that – while they have softened recently – raw material costs will remain headwinds during the next year or so as well.
They were good years – an obituary for Tyres & Accessories’ publisher, Klaus Haddenbrock
On 25 August 2021, we received the tragic news that Klaus Haddenbrock had passed away, aged 77. The team at Tyres & Accessories, along with those from our sister firms in Germany and Italy, join the Haddenbrock family in mourning a man who was a role model to those who knew him well, a source of ideas and, above all, someone with whom we could share our cares and troubles as well as our interests. We will sorely miss our publisher and managing director, and our grief is only mitigated by the fact that his death – while years too soon – was sudden. This is how he’d wished it.
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 increase 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.