Continuing our ongoing series of Torque from the top special interviews with influential industry figures, here Tyres & Accessories hears from Keon Park managing director, Kumho Tyre UK, who shares Kumho’s perspective on the challenges and triumphs of the last couple of years as well as the well-known brand’s hopes for the future.
Ceat has appointed Phil Bradley as the tyre brand’s UK business development manager. In this new role, Bradley will spearhead the development of the brand in the UK, focusing on passenger car tyre lines along with other segments in due course.
Giti Tire has added 27 sizes to its ultra-high performance GitiSportS2 range. Launched in 2021, the tyre was developed using Giti Tire’s globally-integrated, company-wide R&D system, AdvanZtech, and features a new compound that offers extremely high levels of grip which has resulted in an A grading for wet braking. Rolling resistance is measured from B-E. Fabio Pecci-Boriani, senior product manager PCR, SUV, Light Truck for Giti Tire (Europe), described the GitiSportS2 as: “The most technologically advanced, best performing, and dare I say the most exciting UHP tyre ever developed by the European R&D team.”
Point S, the international independent tyre dealer and car maintenance network, has announced positive results of third-party testing of its Summer tyre. The tests, which examined the safety, quality and performance of the product, were conducted by independent technical testing organisation, TÜV SÜD, which is internationally renowned for its impartial insight into the quality of products and brands.
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.
The Michelin Group has announced that is suspending all its “industrial activity” in Russia as well as suspending its exports to Russia.
Michelin’s Davydovo tyre production plant near Moscow employs about 750 people and manufactures passenger car tyres and retreaded truck tyres. According to a statement from Michelin released on 15 March 2022, the Davydovo site’s production is “mainly for the local market”.
Hankook will launch a new line of speciality electric vehicle tyres in May 2022. The line of Hankook iON tyres is developed to offer reduced rolling resistance and therefore an increase in range, lower tyre noise for more comfort, and higher resilience to deal with the higher torque of electric vehicles. The Korean manufacturer said that it is launching the iON line as a contribution to the transition towards zero emission vehicles. The iON line will be available initially in three designs for summer, winter, and all-season applications – the latter in North America, but with European seasonal fitments – in sizes between 18 and 22 inches. The tyres will respectively be launched as the Hankook Ventus iON S summer tyre pattern, the Hankook Winter i*cept iON (from September 2022), and the Hankook Ventus iON A. In addition to supplying its tyres to EV manufacturers and launching an EV tyre line in its domestic South Korean market, Hankook has recently aligned itself with a range of electric mobility projects, such as its title sponsorship of the inaugural Top Gear EV Awards in 2021. Hankook adds that further specific product designs are in the pipeline.
Pirelli has announced a range of price increases in the United States for car and light truck tyres. Specific price increases will vary according to product line and size, but price hikes will range up to 10 per cent.
The crisis in Ukraine has impacted upon Nokian Tyres’ business in multiple ways, and the company has now activated contingency plans to “mitigate the financial and operational impacts” upon business. At the same time, it has donated 100,000 euros to UNICEF to help children in the war zone.
In light of the Russia-Ukraine war, Nokian has established a crisis management team to safeguard staff and production at its Vsevolozhsk, Saint Petersburg, Russia tyre factory and is relocating the production of certain tyre lines to Finland and the US. Nokian employs 1,600 people in Russia. Net sales in the company’s Russia & Asia business unit amounted to 336 million euros in 2021.
Continental’s new SportContact 7 won its first independent tyre test when Tyre Reviews made it the winner of its 2022 Ultra High-Performance test. The new model improves on the sixth generation SportContact with braking distances eight per cent shorter in the wet and six per cent shorter in the dry. Peter Robb, marketing director at Continental, said: “What a win for the SportContact 7! With the success of its predecessor, this result is evidence of Continental’s commitment to producing class-leading high performance tyres. We are thrilled with the win, especially as it is the first tyre test for the new tyre.”
Tyre comparison website Tyre Reviews has put ten popular tyres for performance cars to the test, making the brand-new Continental SportContact 7 a winner in its first outing on the independent assessment circuit. Reviewer Jonathan Benson fitted the ten tyre combinations to a BMW-powered Toyota Supra in sizes 255/35 R19 (front) and 275/35 R19 (rear) for the test, which he conducted over nine disciplines at Conti’s Contidrom facility. Given that the tyre was proven at the circuit, and is at least 12 months newer than any other product in this test, it is perhaps a little unsurprising that the SportContact 7 prevailed, but with reasonably comfortable first-place finishes in the dry and wet handling and braking tests, Tyre Reviews concludes that the tyre sets “a new standard for the UUHP segment.”
One consequence of car manufacturers seeking to improve their eco scores is that they have taken drastic steps to reduce the weight of the vehicles they produce. With that in mind, spare tyre and wheel assemblies have increasingly been seen as, well, a spare wheel in the life of the average motor. And that’s made many marques call the need for the common-or-garden spare tyre into question.
International contract tyre producer SD International is expanding its range of private brand Zeta car and SUV tyres. The range now includes seven models, with runflat, all-season and winter options for extended mobility joining the key Alventi and Impero lines of summer tyres.
The 2021 recovery of the UK car, SUV and van tyre (Light Vehicle) replacement market may not have been the desired quick return to pre-pandemic numbers, but GfK data supplied exclusively to Tyres & Accessories gives us some idea of how 2019 market growth areas have preserved continuity through the last two Covid-afflicted years. Tyres designed for the larger rims of higher performance and newer car models, SUV and light commercial vehicle tyres, and tyres offering performance in all seasons continued to grow at quicker rates than the whole UK replacement tyre market. These overall figures, shown in the top left-hand corner of the infographic, show that unit sales increased by three per cent within the panelmarket – similar figures comparing 2020 with 2019 published in February 2021 showed that unit sales contracted by 14 per cent for comparison. Meanwhile, the value of the UK’s Light Vehicle tyre market rose by seven per cent according to the panelmarket. GfK’s panelmarket data tracks points of sale around the UK to indicate aftermarket tyre trends – the data used for this article compares January-December 2021 to full-year 2020.