Passenger car and light truck (PCLT) tyre production trends in Western Europe have been scaling down over the long-term. The move to larger production facilities in the comparatively low-cost labour markets in Eastern Europe, or greater reliance on imports from Asia, has seen a steady stream of plant closures and conversions to speciality, short-run production capacity – on in the case of Cooper Tire’s UK plant, for example, one followed by the other – in the region. A new assessment of the most recent three-year period by tyre industry analyst Astutus Research suggests that the overall picture has been of a decline similar to the period following the 2008 financial crisis, which was itself a catalyst for this trend. Yet digging a little deeper into the figures shows several dynamics at play in European PCLT tyre production, including supply chain disruption and spiralling energy costs. For comprehensive analysis of global tyre market trends, a series of reports by Astutus Research are available to buy now in the Tyrepress Reports Shop – click here for more details.
Apollo Tyres will enter the European long-haul trailer market with its new commercial vehicle tyre, the EnduMile LHT. The first Apollo truck tyre to achieve an A-grade rating for fuel efficiency on the European tyre label, Apollo says the tyre will be the most durable and lowest rolling resistance truck-sector tyre it has ever produced. The tyre was launched at the manufacturer’s advanced production facility in Gyöngyöshalász, Hungary, where it is to be manufactured. The EnduMile LHT will be available to customers across Europe from early 2023.
During Apollo Tyres’s recent celebration of 25 years of Traxion agricultural tyre technology, Europe president Benoit Rivallant set an ambitious target of growing the company’s off-highway tyre (OHT) revenue by 50 per cent. In Europe, 16 per cent of total revenue originates from the off-highway tyre sector. This compares with 63 per cent from passenger car tyres, 12 per cent from truck and bus tyres, 8 per cent from spare tyres, 1 per cent from bicycle tyres and 1 per cent from other products. In other words, the 16 per cent originating from off-highway tyre sales is a strategically important figure, 92 per cent of which comes from the agricultural sub-segment. Tyres & Accessories took time out with the company’s European head in order to find out more about how executives plan to achieve such ambitious targets in the context of a broadly challenging tyre market environment.
Trailer manufacturer Schwarzmüller has selected Apollo Tyres’ EnduRace RT, EnduRace RT2 and EnduTrax MAHD tyres as original equipment for its truck trailers. This is Apollo’s first original equipment deal in the European truck sector.
With a market share around 30%, the Apollo brand is the strongest player in India’s enormous commercial vehicle segment. It only arrived in the UK five years ago, but Apollo Tyres’ truck and bus radial range is already very much at home here and well positioned for further growth. We recently caught up with Apollo to find out more.
Strong demand for its two-wheeler tyres in India prompted Apollo Tyres to delay the rollout of its Vredestein motorcycle tyre range for Europe. But with a stated strategic focus upon the “premium motorcycling space” and market share for such products exceeding 20 per cent in India, it is highly feasible that Apollo will revisit its European plans at a later date. The company’s latest premium domestic products give us an idea of what we can expect.
Capacities at Apollo Tyres Ltd.’s production facilities in Europe were 88 per cent utilised between March and June 2022. The utilisation figure for the tyre maker’s plants in India was around 85 per cent, reports chief financial officer Gaurav Kumar. This gives the company little leeway for further growth in volumes, but Apollo Tyres believes it can address this issue without resorting to a greenfield or brownfield capacity expansion project.
During the three months to 30 June 2022, Apollo Tyres Ltd. respectively recorded 38 per cent and 14 per cent year-on-year increases in its Indian and European operations. Total revenue from operations for this, the first quarter of the tyre maker’s 2022-23 financial year, amounted to Rs 59.42 billion (£614.72 million) and was 26.9 per cent higher than during the previous year’s first quarter.
With Apollo Tyres launching a new Vredestein tyre specifically developed for electric vehicles (EVs) later this year, the debut of the tyre maker’s first EV-specific products in India is particularly interesting. Yesterday, Apollo introduced new ranges for cars and two-wheelers.
Apollo Tyres says its EnduRace RD2 has proven a great success since its launch last year. The existing size 315/80 R22.5 tyre will soon be joined by two further dimensions. As of this month, Apollo EnduRace RD2 is also available as a 315/70 R22.5 product, while a 295/80 R22.5 version will arrive next March.
Apollo Tyres reports revenue of Rs 209.48 billion (£2.22 billion) for the financial year ending 31 March 2021, 20 per cent higher than during the prior fiscal year. EBITDA declined 8.0 per cent year-on-year to Rs 25.74 billion (£272.59 million), with the EBITDA margin contracting 379 Bps to 12.3 per cent. Net profit stands at Rs 6.39 billion (£67.67 million).
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.
The South African Competition Commission tyre price fixing hearing got underway in South Africa on 28 January 2022. The Competition Commission names Apollo Tyres South Africa (Pty) Ltd; Goodyear South Africa (Pty) Ltd; Continental Tyres South Africa (Pty) Ltd; Bridgestone South Africa (Pty) Ltd; and South African Tyre Manufacturers Conference (Pty) Ltd its case and alleges that from around 1999-2007, the respondents “discussed and agreed to fix the prices of passenger, light truck, bus, off-the-road, agricultural and earthmover tyres”. This was allegedly done through the SATMC, an association for tyre manufacturers in South Africa. The respondents were members of the SATMC.
As reported on 18 January, Apollo Tyres Ltd. has acquired a 27.2 per cent shareholding in a renewable energy firm, Cleantech Solar subsidiary CSE Deccan Solar. The tyre maker says the reason it did so is to gain a guaranteed annual supply of 40 million units of electricity for its manufacturing facility in Chennai. CSE Deccan Solar expects to begin delivering in July 2022, and this electricity will account for around 20 per cent of the plant’s total requirements and boost the total proportion of renewable energy to more than 30 per cent.