Peter Gaster confronted the issue of tyre ageing head-on in what is likely to be his last NTDA dinner as association chairman. The headline news is that, following negotiations between NTDA director Richard Edy and the RAC Foundation, the respected motoring organisation has pledged its full support for to an industry-wide tyre age check campaign.
The subject of grey marketing raises the hackles of wholesalers and manufacturers alike, with each blaming the other for its existence. So imagine my surprise when Kumho UK managing director, Steve Tidmarsh tackled the subject head-on, telling delegates at November’s Tyre Wholesaler’s Group (TWG) lunch that it is “the manufacturers who drive the grey market.”
An Untapped Resource? Nokian’s Kazakhstan factory bid
With news of Chinese product recalls and revised tax rules, some people are looking elsewhere to source their tyres. But if a tyre manufacturing colleague said they were about to expand capacity by entering into an off-take agreement in Kazakhstan, they would probably be met with either a blank “where-exactly-is-that face?” or a stream of Borat-related quips. Joking aside, Nokian Tyres, a company that has made a real success of its niche market approach, has reportedly taken the plunge and broken ground on $200 million-worth of production capacity in Astana, the former Soviet country’s capital city.
Although Nokian staff have not immediately confirmed their involvement in the deal, it would see Nokian gain another low-cost production base to supplement its very successful St Petersburg, Russia operation and - just as importantly - a strong and growing market in which to sell its high quality winter tyres. The winter conditions in Ukraine and Kazakhstan are harsh, making studded tyres popular.