The latest data might show that 4×4 replacement tyre sales are down 6 per cent, however Tyres & Accessories asked market analysts GfK how past trends compare with current realities and found: 4×4 tyres have been hit by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, but far less than most other segments. At the same time, the all-season 4×4 tyre sub-segment witnessed some examples of positive growth.
4×4 retail tyre sales have long been a growth area and the UK market constitutes one of the leading lights in Europe. More recent growth has been driven by similarly strong SUV vehicle sales as well as consumer switches towards all-season products. At the same time, more practical and off-road-orientated vehicles have also been supporting 4×4 tyre sales.
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The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has made 2020 an annus horribilis for the UK car tyre market, with a near quarter-long lockdown slashing miles driven, original equipment sales due to prolonged factory closures, and reducing sales opportunities further with the government’s MOT exemption. However, tyre businesses have begun ramping up again in response to the reopening of business sectors, people returning to work, and the possibility that private car usage could become increasingly popular as commuters avoid public transport – though the trend for working from home could create more than a headwind for any growth in miles driven. Perhaps the greatest driver of UK car tyre sales growth in 2020 could be the projected spike in MOTs in the autumn, as the period of exemption expires for many pandemic affected motorists. Halfords Autocentres estimates that there could be an 85 per cent jump in demand for MOTs in October – click here for Tyrepress’s own analysis of the MOT situation. Why is this important in a feature about all-season and winter tyres? As we are about to see, the all-season tyre segment continued its impressive growth over April 2019 – March 2020.
On the morning of 10 June 2020, well-respected market analysts GfK hosted an webinar for north of 170 European tyre executives. Overall, the “Global Car Tyre Market Overview” presentation concluded that, while there are many variables and unknowns, retail tyre demand in 2020 market is likely to be down 20-30 per cent compared with 2019.
The latest GfK data based on its tyre retail sell-out sources – what it refers to as its panelmarket – shows that UHP tyre sizes, especially above 17″, continued to represent a growing market in 2019. The analyst compared UHP tyres, here defined as 17” and above, in the period from January 2018 to December 2018 with January 2019 to December 2019. The first column shows that 17” takes a share of the total tyre market of just over one-fifth (21 per cent). 17” has been a popular size for many years, benefitting from the transition of more compact cars onto higher rim sizes. However, growth in 17” dimensions has now plateaued, with this figure representing no change on the previous year’s data.
The combination of political disruption and Brexit uncertainty made 2019 a tough year for the UK economy in general, so it is not surprising to learn that this was reflected in the overall passenger car tyre replacement market. According to the latest sell-out UK tyre replacement market data collated by analysts at GfK, the headline news is that both the value and the volume of the decreased in 2019. But there are reasons for hope, with signs of growth remaining in the value-rich SUV tyre sub-segment and with evidence of strong growth in sales of all-season tyres.
Larger capacity, increased comfort in the cabin and multi-terrain capabilities are just some of the reasons why motorists are continuing to choose SUVs when purchasing a new vehicle.
Indeed, SUVs and crossovers currently account for a third of the UK’s best-selling cars list of 2019 to date, with offerings from Nissan, Ford and Kia among the biggest sellers.
The size of the UK truck tyre market by sell-out unit volume fell 9.8 per cent in 2018 set against the backdrop of European import tariffs, according to GfK data presented at Autopromotec 2019. But what do the tell us about the effectiveness of the tariffs?
At the time of going to press, the President of the United States of America is mid-way through a state visit to the UK. Before he even landed on British soil, President Donald Trump stirred up controversy by tweeting his disparaging thoughts about London Mayor Sadiq Kahn. Whatever view one might hold about the propriety of Trump’s visit, we all know that 31-gun salutes and tea with the queen are about more than niceties. Sure enough less than 24 hours into the state visit, presidential talk turned to trade, with Trump backing out-going Prime Minister Theresa May to complete Brexit negotiations and promising a “phenomenal” trade deal between the US and UK. But all this is set against the backdrop of all-out trade war between the US and China at the same time that Europe is involved in somewhat more Cold War-esque trade skirmishes with China as well. The questions are: do such measures work? And what do they mean for the tyre business?
Sales of SUV tyres continue to drive growth in the UK 4×4 tyre replacement market, with UHP-orientated tyres growing even faster. According to the latest data provided by market analysts GfK, these trends have come while there have been no clear changes in the market’s brand segmentation, which suggests product mix and volume growth must be behind the improvement.
As part of our review of 2018, Tyres & Accessories asked market research specialists to give an overview of some of the key trends that have taken place in the UK car, 4×4 and light truck replacement tyre market trends during the course of the year. In doing so, we have a good foundation for looking forward into 2019 and beyond. What we found was that UK tyre replacement market is increasingly high-performance and increasingly high-value.
GfK’s Panelmarket data compares the period between November 2016 and October 2017 with November 2017 to October 2018. Reading left to right, the infographic below shows the percentage share of the panelmarket broken down by vehicle type (passenger car, 4×4 including SUV and light commercial vehicle); key changes in the panelmarket during the last 12 months broken down by rim diameter; brand tier split; and the two five tyre sizes.