As we all know the tire market is big business around the world and none more so than in Europe. But at the same time, let’s not forget another highly important product in the automotive market as without it tires would not be able to function on a vehicle.
Yes, you’ve probably guessed, I am indeed referring to alloy wheels and over the past few weeks I have noticed in industry news about an increasing amount of drivers who are driving around with their alloys in a very negative condition. In fact, a recent business survey carried out has revealed that as many as four out of five cars are displaying scuffs, scrapes, dents and other unsightly damage to their wheels at any one time.
On looking a little deeper into this issue, I discovered that there could currently be as many as 300 million damaged alloy wheels in Europe. I have read several articles recently which clearly states this situation represents a very sizable and lucrative new business opportunity for enterprising tire outlets, garages and workshops throughout Europe.
I am not talking about the growing number of companies advertising to repair alloys, which can be a very expensive process. At present it is estimated there could be as much as 250 million euros worth of damaged alloys on European roads, which will cost around 185 billion euros to repair and restore to their original condition. This levels out at between 70 euros up to 100 euros per wheel, so perhaps it is understandable why a great deal of drivers don’t bother to get them repaired.
As we say in Europe, “prevention is always the best cure” when it comes to damaged products, and alloy wheels are certainly no exception. On investigation I found there are a rising number of enterprising businesses offering fitted alloy wheel protection, and one service that particularly caught my eye was AlloyGator from AlloyGator Ltd. of England, which presents an increasingly popular super-tough nylon wheel rim protection system.The wheel rim protection unit is easily fitted between the alloy wheel and the tire and significantly reduces the risk of inflicting damage through hitting curbs and low barriers. It is reassuringly constructed of extremely tough nylon that is highly flexible. The unit is professionally fitted by way of being locked over 360 degrees using extremely robust, patented technology.
As a point of general reference I looked at what the AlloyGator system has to offer and I swiftly came to the conclusion that it is amazing not many tire dealers or garages realize the real profit potential of offering such a fitting facility at their premises. At the moment drivers seem to think they cannot prevent damage to their alloy wheels.
However, for what is a moderately low cost they could have a wheel protection unit fitted to each wheel, and the only way (apart from advertising) that the general public is going to become aware is if tire dealers and garages invest in the products on the market. See the video at www.alloygator.com.I have used AlloyGator as an example, but there are already several other equally impressive brands available. To gain some initial research on this matter, I have spoken to several leading tire dealership groups in Europe, and the general opinion I am getting is that yes, they are aware of alloy wheel protection products but hesitate in keeping the units in stock as they are not totally convinced their customers would buy them.
Looking at this situation from a marketing point of view, it seems obvious that the producers of the wheel protection units are not promoting their products in a high enough profile to catch the attention of drivers. However, at the same time tire dealers sometimes have to have confidence in their own judgment to try and educate their customers on the theory that it’s better to invest in alloy wheel protection as opposed to keep paying out for repairs.
Europe can be a strange place at times, and I’m sure that if just one country was to take up the baton of openly supporting the protection of alloy wheels, then other countries would soon follow. ■
John Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the past 26 years. In 2004 he launched his own consulting company, Sapphire Media Services, which caters to business media clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia.
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