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.
Since March, cumulative passenger car and light truck tyre imports to the European Union and UK have, for the first time, recovered to run above pre-pandemic levels. This is despite the well-documented impact of sharply higher ocean freight costs in this period, and disruption to production in some source countries. A newly published report by Astutus Research, “European PCLT Tire Demand and Supply Forecasts to 2026”, shows that in the first seven months of 2022, European (the EU-27 plus UK)* imports from outside the region were 11% higher than the same period last year and 5% higher than the equivalent pre-Covid period in 2019.
With a wave of new ultra-high performance products from global brands arriving in the post-pandemic market, Tyres & Accessories looks at data supplied by specialist tyre industry analyst Astutus Research showing just how quickly the market for high rim diameter (HRD) tyres is now growing in Western and Central Europe (this data excludes Russia, Ukraine and the rest of Eastern Europe).
The first month of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already revealed several consequences for mobility and the global tyre industry, as Tyrepress’s continuing coverage of the situation has shown. The resultant sanctions imposed on Russia by an international alliance and the response of multinational companies, at least 450 of which had scaled back their business in the country as of the publication of this article, will send reverberations around global economies. The tyre industry faces impacts on several fronts – higher fuel prices and further interruption to logistics chains and materials supply will have knock-on consequences for tyre sales that will unfold over the coming months. At nearly a month after the conflict began, tyre business analyst Astutus Research examines the immediate consequences for tyre manufacturing in Russia, as well as its neighbours Ukraine and Belarus. This analysis looks at the impact of events on the global manufacturers whose plants were collectively responsible for around 70 per cent of Russia’s passenger car and light truck (PCLT) output. For more Astutus Research analysis and forecasts for the global tyre business, see the report series ‘Beyond Covid-19’ in Tyrepress’s Report Shop.
The rise of electric vehicles, continuing to set a good pace of growth in UK and European markets despite the difficulties facing new car sales over the last 18 months, is one of the central pillars of mobility’s dominant megatrend, sustainability. Given the UK’s growing demand for the various forms of electric-powered cars – battery electric (BEV), hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and mild hybrid electric (MHEV) – it is clear that servicing this section of the market will be vital in the long-term to tyre fitters. At the same time numbers remain relatively small in comparison to the level of interest they generate, though the growth is impressive.
The significant decline in revenue for global tyre makers based on headwinds from the Covid-19 pandemic was felt most keenly by companies with the greatest exposure to the consumer vehicle tyre markets. (For the effects of the crisis on manufacturers, see our ranking of the world’s top tyre manufacturers in the Company section of our 75th anniversary special issue.) As many countries reduced private mileage considerably with working from home orders and travel restrictions – not to mention the negative effects of measures such as the UK’s MOT freeze, which removed a significant push factor in the market for much of 2020 – car tyre sales last year dropped considerably, though again there were big differences even within the EU27 and UK. Within car tyre segments there were significant differences in the depth of the contraction too. Broadly speaking, the higher value the segment, the better it tended to fare. Pirelli’s financial reporting for 2020, and the subsequent first-quarter growth in 2021, provide a good illustration of how higher performance segments provided increased resilience in these difficult times.
The Tyre Recovery Association has revealed one simple factor behind the increased expense of collection and recycling end of life car tyres; they are getting heavier. New analysis by Astutus Research reveals that the average weight of a car tyre is now seven per cent more that it was just five years ago. Several factors have recently combined to push up the cost of waste tyre collection.
With the addition of the Cooper Tire business, Goodyear will return to the global number three ranking in passenger car and light truck (PCLT) tyre volumes in 2021. After previously holding the clear number three ranking behind the world’s largest tyre manufacturers, Bridgestone and Michelin, Goodyear was joint third with Continental in both 2017 and 2018. In 2019, Goodyear fell behind Continental to fourth position in 2019 and 2020. Working on a pro forma basis combining original equipment and replacement market tyres, Astutus Research data reveals some interesting facts about the nascent conjoined organisation, with reference to their largest tyre business segment in terms of volume.
China accounted for more than half of all passenger car and light truck (PCLT) tyres entering the European Union and the United Kingdom for the first time during the first eight months of 2020. Comparatively, the then 28 EU nations imported 105 million passenger car and light truck (PCLT) tyres from outside the region in the same period of 2019.* The major impact on tyre demand of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as varying degrees of disrupted production, led to the EU-27 and UK together importing 21 million fewer tyres in the corresponding period of 2020, a reduction of 20 per cent. The Eurostat and HMRC data was compiled by leading data analyst Astutus Research.
Leading tyre market data analyst Astutus Research has predicted that the European trend for higher performance tyres looks set to continue. The analyst’s report, ‘Future Dynamics of the European PCLT Tire Industry’, published in association with Tyrepress, has been updated for 2019 with an eye to the trends of the next five years. The analyst states: “The movement towards tyres with a higher rim diameter is clear within the European PCLT tyre replacement market. This reflects the trend towards larger tyres on new car models and changes in the composition of the car parc, with a greater share of SUVs. The replacement market reflects the changes in the original equipment segment, albeit with a lag.
In previous features on commercial vehicle tyres, Tyres & Accessories has noted the varied effects European Union tariffs on product manufactured in China have had on the market. Questioning whether the tariffs have “worked” is a complex question, because their effect on new tye segmentation and retreads have been varied across Europe’s major markets. Truck tyre markets in France and Germany reacted in very different ways to the UK, at least partially because the latter market was contracting anyway.
The latest global tyre market share figures from tyre industry analyst Astutus Research show how long-established, leading players headquartered in Japan, Europe, and North America have seen their volume share diminish, while Chinese, ASEAN, and selected other markets’ tyre manufacturers’ share has risen. The analyst states that in aggregate, the ten leading PCLT tyre manufacturers based in Japan, Europe and North America (J-E-NA) have lost almost 6 percentage points of market share since the end of 2011 (OE and replacement segments combined, volumes in tyre units). In part this reflects a strategic choice of some to focus on the higher value premium segments of the market.
New research by London based independent research company Astutus Research suggests that a domestic Chinese company could be about to join the top 10 global manufacturers of passenger car and light truck (PCLT) tyres. Linglong Tyre, currently ranked 12th globally in the segment by unit sales, is forecast to take tenth place by 2019, replacing South Korea’s Kumho Tyre. The move would make the manufacturer the first from China to enter the PCLT top 10.