An influx of new vehicle registrations has driven demand for premium car tyres upwards in the UK. Yet somewhat paradoxically, the price of these products has continued to fall, further impacting the margin retailers can make versus what they can expect on lower-priced products. Tyres & Accessories sat down with Micheldever wholesale director Alan Baldwin and wholesale marketing manager Rory Carlin to discuss the premium fightback and its symptoms for dealers. “Premium brands are absolutely in the ascendancy,” Baldwin says.
A consortium initiated by Tructyre has won £1.2 million of funding for its “Pathway to Autonomous Commercial Vehicles” project. This project aims to develop “an innovative solution to monitor key information from the vehicle and predict safety risks based on analytics”. It builds on a prototype which monitors tyre pressures and temperatures in commercial vehicles, combined with always-on network connection.
When Ashley Croft used his farewell Tyre Wholesaler Group annual chairman’s speech to ask how we define what a “premium” tyre is, he captured something of this year’s tyre industry zeitgeist (click here for full coverage of the speech). Of the speech didn’t just deal with this question – it touched on labelling, part worns and what the UK industry is doing to improve the availability of good market data too – but, if the market ruminations of a number of key players are anything to go by, Croft wasn’t the only one to have been raising this question during the last 12 months.
Firenza characterises its partnership with West Midlands based wholesaler International Tyres as “increasingly successful”, and the tyre supplier has been working to increase its range to suit more sizes and applications across the commercial tyre segment in the UK and Europe.
An in-house test conducted by car parts distributor Andrew Page is said to be responsible for the company’s decision to make Michelin its first choice tyre fitment. The tests reportedly showed that Michelin tyres lasted up to 7,000 miles more than other premium brands.
Winter tyres are becoming increasingly popular for those who wish to keep moving during the dreary, icy and snowy months to come. Irritatingly, often the process of swapping over your summer tyres while keeping your original wheels is long-winded, time consuming and unnecessary, plus steels are a bit dull aren't they?
A particular focus for Van den Ban at this year’s Reifen show was to convey to visitors the company’s full range of services. To this end, representatives from the Netherlands-based wholesaler’s various national sales teams were on hand to meet with new and existing clients, and VDB showed off examples of its private labels, exclusive brands. Of course, the complete range of premium brands distributed by VDB was also there.
With high durability in mind and with shoulders designed using Virtual Intelligent Prototyping technology to reduce wear, the Maxxis heavy truck range reportedly incorporates 22.5 inch steer, drive and trailer tyres as well as a super single.
Vacu-Lug Traction Tyres Limited is one of the latest group of successful companies to join a leading edge scheme, designed to help industry improve its safety record. The Grantham, Lincolnshire-based firm recently received accreditation from SAFEcontractor, a programme which recognises high standards of health and safety practice amongst UK contractors.
The Firenza brand has been established in the UK truck market for a number of years now and the range, which is produced by Sumo Tires, is steadily growing. Firenza commercial vehicle tyres are said to be backed by the latest production technology and include design features such as a solid shoulder area construction, a zero angle steel band that prevents irregular wear plus a tread groove to combat casing damage and stone retention.
Renault has announced that it will become the first vehicle manufacturer to offer its customers an own-branded tyre, when its Motrio range is released to UK Renault dealers on 1 February. The manufacturer is pitching the budget segment tyre to drivers of “older Renault vehicles, with prices starting at £36 per tyre fully fitted”. Renault recently lowered its new car prices by up to £2,000, and it says the own-brand tyres will “help drive down the cost of motoring” further. The manufacturer says the Motrio range “has been tested to Renault’s strict specifications to ensure owners can be certain that the performance of the tyre is in harmony with their vehicle”.
Autocar magazine has performed its 2010 rear wheel drive tyre test, and Continental has good reason to spread the word about the test’s outcome. Continental Tyre Group UK reports that its ContiSportContact 3 has “proved its rear wheel drive capabilities” by taking top spot in the test, which was conducted using a Mercedes C280.
When Al-Dobowi Group executives Surrender Singh Kandhari and his son Harjeev Singh Kandhari founded Infinity tyres six years ago, they probably didn't envisage how quickly their ambitious plans would come to fruition. What began with a series of informal meetings with key employees and potential suppliers in 2004 has since grown into an international exclusive/private brand operation present in 60 countries around the world. The kernel of a concept the Kandharis planted back then has developed through key partnerships with Chinese supplying manufacturer Shandong Linglong Co., Ltd. (see following article for more on this company's latest developments including its plans to construct a $200 million proving ground) and key distribution partners in Europe and Africa. With the recent addition of a Canadian distribution arm last year and with fledgling partnerships in both the Russian and Ukrainian markets, the company's global ambitions are clear.
As a man of 40 experience in the tyre trade – and with it the knowledge of three recessions – Tyre Wholesalers Group chair Ashley Croft is in a good position to comment on the effects of the current financial crisis (which, depending on whose opinion you are heeding, may or may not have come to an end). In his speech at the 2009 TWG Annual Lunch, Croft described the past year as a “harsh period”, but made clear that the recession had hit hardest in the tyre business where manufacturers were most committed to supplying original equipment. However, he stated, “replacement market traders have once again proved themselves to be relatively recession-proof”.