Shanghai-based contract manufacturer SD-International reports that both its Pace and Zeta brands have “steadily emerged as a popular competitive option within the high performance markets in the UK and Europe.”
According to the company, the Pace PC10 and Zeta ZTR10 patterns are produced in China within a plant that uses European pattern design technology. Both tyres are approved to meet a number of important standards such as ETRTO, DOT, GCC, E4, S-Marking and are REACH compliant.
The National Measurement Office (NMO) has been named as the enforcement body of the European tyre labelling legislation that was implemented across the continent in November 2012. The NMO’s remit covers the effective implementation of tyre labelling in the UK and includes scope for retail checks as well as monitoring the authenticity and accuracy of the labels themselves. News of the appointment bridges the gap between the legislation put in place and the industry take steps to adapt to it. Now however, there is reason for renewed positivity. Not only because there are people to take responsibility for the deployment of the law, but because we will hopefully now be able to begin gauging the real effects of the legislation on how tyres are bought and sold.
By the time you read this it will be nearly six months since tyre labelling became mandatory in the UK and across Europe. However, while the rules associated with this regulation have been anticipated for years, and indeed a rolling introduction began in May 2012, nearly a year after we all began talking about who got what label there is still something of a gap when it comes to enforcement. We have talked through the various options available to the British government in the pages of Tyres & Accessories before (see our 2012 Tyre Labelling special supplement for more on this) so there’s no-need to retrace those steps here. However the central point that rules are only as strong as their enforcement still stands. And the need is getting more urgent. As long as we don’t have an enforcement body in place there is a disincentive for dealers and other parts of the tyre trade to invest what’s necessary in systems and training to ensure labels are being talked about during the sales process. In its place all we have is de facto Andrex-soft enforcement.
The UK government Department for Transport (DfT) thinks the British tyre industry could take up to six months to catch up with all the necessary requirements for European tyre labelling compliance. Furthermore, the department's prevailing view is said to be that “heavy handed enforcement is not on the agenda” in the first half of the year following the introduction of the new rules. Their view is that the introduction of the law is not about a short term rush to change, but rather a long-term transformation of the way the market interacts with consumers in the same way as has taken place in the white goods industry over a decade.
Up till now, SD International has primarily concentrated on providing a PCR and UHP-based product portfolio, but now the company is looking to further enhance its position in the global industry as a growing provider of truck brands. A Shanghai-based Contract tyre manufacturer, SD International specialises in offering Zeta and Pace branded products in the truck tyre market.
When it comes to legislation affecting the tyre industry it is a tug of war between “rules are rules” and “rules are made to be broken.” As readers of our Tyrepress.com e-Newsletter will already know, the events of recent weeks have provided us with some bizarre examples of this kind of contrary logic in action. When Carl Steele from Lincolnshire was found guilty of causing in excess of a quarter of million pounds worth of environmental damage during a two year tyre dumping stint, you could be forgiven for thinking the justice system would force him to pay his debt to society.
The introduction of tyre labelling will soon be upon us but there are still much work to do when it comes to the implementation and communication of this potentially game-changing legislation. No-one knows exactly what effect the adoption of labels will have on sales, but the communication and brand positioning is well underway.
Following the publication of Tyres & Accessories’ report on the recent NTDA Tyre Wholesalers Group annual lunch, ETRMA secretary general Fazilet Cinaralp has written an open letter stating her association’s surprise at the issues raised in TWG chairman Ashley Croft’s keynote speech. During the speech, Croft referred to testing, lobbying and the relative importance of the implementation of current tread depth legislation. As our coverage explains, no-one was available to attend the event on behalf of the European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers association, so here is the association’s response in full:
Already purportedly the largest tyre manufacturer based in China (with annual turnover equating to around US$3.38 billion in 2010) and currently number 11 in the world, Hangzhou Zhongce reports that it expects to climb up the rankings following the opening of a new factory during the middle of next year.
In the medium term the ambition (something that Chinese manufacturers are seldom short of) is for the company to maintain a top 10, perhaps ninth, and beyond. Although this could mean leap-frogging other fast-growing Far Eastern competitors (including the increasingly influential Korean set), during a recent meeting in London with executives and research and development heads Hanzhou Zhongce representatives reiterated their intentions of becoming world-class players, inviting partners to “craft a better future” through the Chinese tyre maker's Westlake brand. The CEO of the Westlake brand, who reports directly to the president of Hangzhou Zhongce and who was introduced as Mr. Ge, was in attendance.
Yesterday saw the Tyre Wholesalers Group Annual Lunch held at the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull. At the event, TWG chair Ashley Croft reviewed the year in UK tyre wholesaling, saying that “TWG members are fortunate within the replacement side of our market to have enjoyed a year of consistent market size, although the busy first half of the year has been balanced by a quieter period following.” Croft also looked forward to 2011, in which he forecasted “a year of challenges” for TWG members, commented on the rising interest in winter – or cold weather – tyres in the UK and the long-term potential effects of a consistent, large seasonal market; the persistently low availability of product throughout the year; his concerns about tyre labelling; and the education of non-NTDA member retailers. Below, tyrepress.com presents the transcription of his speech.
Giti Tire has doubled the size of its European test centre, based at the MIRA research facilities in Warwickshire by both expanding its garage space and staff numbers at the test track. The development, which comes not much more than two years after the company embarked on its European research and development programme there, reflects the company’s determination to significantly increase sales and further develop its products to compete with longer established brand names.
As a result of the investment Giti has made, the company’s operation is now amongst the largest tyre testing programmes operating at MIRA. Speaking to Tyres & Accessories during a recent truck tyre demonstration day, company representatives explained that this UK-based European testing operation is increasingly adopting the position of a global centre as it now tests products for the US and various other global markets as well as its European mainstay. In addition the test centre has reportedly played host to the engineers from the firm’s Indonesian and Chinese production bases. Furthermore, the experienced test team that has been established under the leadership of the company’s European Technical Centre head, Eddie Young, has also begun bi-annual winter tyre testing at respected centres in Finland and New Zealand.
The Environment Agency, Scottish Environment Protection Agency and Northern Ireland Environment Agency are working together on new legislation affecting the tyre industry. They have chosen Brityrex as a major platform for an important tyre trade campaign to raise awareness about the new legislation covering the chemical make-up of tyres and retread rubber.
With effect from the beginning of January this year new European REACH legislation states that extender oils shall not be placed on the market, or used for the production of tyres or parts of tyres if they contain more than the threshold limits of PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon). The restrictions also apply to the marketing of tyres and treads for retreading.
Cooper Tire has launched a new product for small and medium sized family cars, which it claims boasts a reduction in road noise and a longer lifespan than its predecessor. The company states that it has used the latest pitch sequencing technology to create the Cooper CS2, a step to reduce the tyre’s noise levels and provide the quiet running required by the latest EU legislation (otherwise known as s-marking).
With tyre businesses forced to face the unprecedented combination of global recession, high raw material costs and increasingly thorough legislative demands, the two years since the last Essen show have been some of the toughest in the market’s history. And yet, if you will excuse the pun, the tyre business seems to have a perpetual ability to “bounce back” in the face of adversity. In fact some brands – largely those operating in the mid and upper mid range segments – actually outperformed their pre-recession sales records, resulting in increased market share at least in terms of units sales.
That said, all businesses have had to cope with the same credit crunch-induced reticence amongst consumers to spend any money at all, while at the same time having to deal with (either directly for the manufacturers or indirectly for those importing, wholesaling and trading) high input costs for raw materials such as natural rubber.
Ecological friendliness may not be the first characteristic one would stereotypically think of to describe sports utility vehicles, but Italian tyre manufacturer Pirelli believe it has spotted an opportunity within this seeming anachronism. The company launched its new road-biased Scorpion Verde tyre, developed to meet what it perceives as the SUV market’s need for increased fuel efficiency. With more than just one eye on upcoming tyre labelling regulations, Pirelli claims that the Scorpion Verde boasts greatly improved rolling resistance from previous high performance SUV offerings, making it “the first high-performance eco tyre for vehicles with the highest environmental impact – SUVs and Crossovers.”