No-one envisioned just how many challenges the tyre market would have to face this year. As has generally been the case, the trade rose to the occasion by repeatedly pivoting to adjust to mid-pandemic customer demands and government requirements. At the bricks and mortar end of the business this has meant ensuring premises are Covid-secure and there are continuing supplies of PPE – as well as maintaining high standards of tyre service and supply. However, this year has also significantly closed the gap between exclusively conventional bricks and mortar tyre retail businesses and pure play tyre e-tailers, with consumers increasingly planning tyre purchases and looking for contactless servicing options online.
The development of modern car technology has accelerated as fast as ever before and manufacturers producing the systems that allow workshops to service these vehicles effectively have also developed at a fast rate. In some cases, the development has been a technological necessity needed to keep pace with vehicle development, but in other cases, the development is driven by the vision to provide a better, more efficient servicing solution.
The Motor Ombudsman has upgraded its online Knowledge Base with the introduction of a new category on the Coronavirus (COVID-19). It has been designed to help consumers answer frequently asked queries on car ownership, vehicle maintenance and dispute resolution, following the latest government measures which have recently been implemented in the UK.
Lydia Limited, the company behind tyre price comparison site Motokiki, called in the administrators on 24 October 2019. Simon Girling and Chris Marsden of BDO LLP were appointed Joint Administrators on the same day. Tyres & Accessories understands that the administrators are seeking to sell the technology assets of the company and is seeking offers before a Friday 15 November 2019 deadline.
Hella has launched a battery finder tool to easily source a replacement battery. The free tool can be accessed at: http://hellabatteryfinder.com where users can search for a battery using the registration number, vehicle model details or VIN number and can be used for motorcycles, cars and light commercial vehicles.
We are all familiar with the likes of MoneySuperMarket, CompareTheMarket and Confused.com. Beginning with financial and insurance products, these sites set out to give consumers more choice and the ability to compare the prices. Owing to the fact that tyres are arguably more complex, the tyre industry has moved a bit slower when it comes to comparison. During the last year or so, however, tyre comparison has come of age. So, who are the main players, what are the differences and where did tyre comparison all begin?
Starter is launching what it describes as “the first price comparison platform for global use” in the automotive vehicle and parts marketplace. Offering a wide product catalogue with more than 5 million parts, it is said to be the largest and most comprehensive website to unite consumers and businesses via a global marketplace.
Continental and Vodafone are promoting a new digital tyre monitoring platform, ContiConnect. The companies are using the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect commercial vehicle fleets to the digital tyre monitoring platform to improve road safety and vehicle efficiencies. ContiConnect is currently deployed in US, Canada, Malaysia and Thailand with more markets in Europe and Asia to follow in 2018 and next year.
Bentley has been unveiling what it calls the first hybrid electric super-luxury car at the Geneva Motor Show. Other manufacturers (like Porsche) may disagree with this assertion, but the launch marks something of a landmark for the industry with more and more emphasis being paid to the new generation of electric and hybrid vehicles. Indeed, during the company’s latest financial results, Pirelli’s Marco Tronchettic Provera even spoke about the digitisation of the company’s business as if it is normal – something that was followed by the launch of Pirelli’s Cyber Car in Geneva at the start of March. In short, the Cyber Car system offers an OEM solution to send data from the tyres to the car and from the car to the cloud for the benefit of that particular driver as well as road-users in general.
Blackcircles.com, the UK’s leading online tyre retailer, reported a steep increase in sales from new customers during June. According to the company, this includes 80 per cent who have never previously bought tyres online. The metrics indicate that tyre retailing, which has traditionally lagged online adoption in other sectors like banking and travel, is going through something of a transformation.
Michelin will begin selling tyres directly to consumers online for the first time during the first quarter of 2016. The news came in parallel with the launch of the new Michelin Pilot Sport 4, which will be the first tyre to be sold by the company via this method.
Goodyear has launched its next generation website in the UK and Ireland. While not quite the pioneering retail strategy employed by the manufacturer’s US digital platform, the new site (www.goodyear.co.uk) has increased the company’s interaction with end-consumers – a reaction to the sustained growth in consumers researching their tyre purchase decision online. In an unusual move for tyre manufacturers’ own websites, Goodyear also provides a recommended sell-out price on its tyres, which indicates a step towards the retail activity of its American cousin, albeit without any sort of requirement of the retailer to honour that price.
Last January at its annual dealer conference, Goodyear unveiled plans to launch direct-to-consumer online sales across the US through its Goodyear.com website. Since then, Michelin has bought into two large European e-tailers and Apollo has acquired another. Clearly 2015 has been the year that tyre majors have allowed their online retail strategies surface. And while approaches differ between manufacturers and markets, Goodyear’s US approach is by far the most direct. At the moment, this approach centres on North America, however what we learn from Goodyear’s case is valuable in any market. In mid-November Tire Review editor Jim Smith met with Goodyear’s Mike Dauberman, senior director of marketing and interactive, and Bill Friel, general manager of consumer dealer retail, and here gives Tyres per cent Accessories readers access to their conversation.