Retail

Low rolling resistance, high expectations

Greg Smith
Posted on July 26, 2010
Rob Oudshoorn, CEO of Vredestein Apollo, with the Wintrac Nextreme.
Rob Oudshoorn, CEO of Vredestein Apollo, with the Wintrac Nextreme.

Green tires and pending government regulations were a major part of the recently completed 26th International Reifen Trade Fair at Essen, Germany. Guests from 127 countries, 600 exhibitors from 42 countries, and more than 18,000 buyers attended the fair.

“Reifen was not only an ordering platform but also a worldwide contact exchange, which permitted a large number of international contacts and discussions in a time-efficient way,” said Frank Thorwirth, chairman and CEO of Messe Essen. “In each case, more than 60% of the exhibitors and visitors came from abroad.

“Our international presence and our worldwide marketing for the fair have led to even greater international attention, which has been reflected in the even greater internationality on the exhibitor side as well as on the visitor side.”

Peter Hulzer, executive chairman of event sponsor BRV (Federal Association of the Tyre Trade and the Vulcanisers’ Skilled Trade), said the success of the fair was a sign of the emerging continuation of the upward economic trend around the world.

“After a difficult past year, the business climate has brightened up considerably. This upward trend has been confirmed at Reifen: The exhibitors registered a lot of incoming orders.

“At both national and international levels, the visitors were busy placing orders. I have never experienced such a good mood here. From Essen, very positive signals for our sector are being sent all over the world.”

A number of tire dealers and companies from the United States also attended the event, including officials from the Tire Industry Association (TIA).

“The fair was very successful for us,” said Roy Littlefield, executive vice president of TIA. “In these difficult times, we would not have expected such a large number of internationally high-ranking visitors. The quality of the visitors has even risen in comparison with the previous event.

“Because of the overall economic situation, we were uncertain about how much interest from the visitors we would encounter. However, we had a great response and a lot of intensive discussions from the first day of the fair.

“This fair has become exceptionally valuable for TIA,” said Littlefield. “It offers us a good opportunity for networking and for face-to-face conversations with our international members. The number of our contacts increases whenever we participate in Reifen.”

Many discussions revolved around a new European Union (EU) regulation for tire labeling that goes into effect on Nov. 1, 2012. The regulation will grade a tire’s fuel efficiency, wet grip and noise and become mandatory for all car and van tires manufactured after July 1, 2012, for use in the European Union countries.

“It’s not only about rolling resistance, but it’s about safety,” said Lothar Kerscher, vice-chairman of the Federal Association of the Tyre Trade (Germany’s version of a tire dealer association) and BVR during a press conference at the show.

According to Kerscher, there are no real rules yet for determining rolling resistance; it’s just a big marketing push at the moment by tire companies. “There are no test results yet between low rolling resistance tires versus regular tires.”

He hopes that an agreement on the rating system will be finalized by the end of 2010, but right now, the measuring results are varying by 20% when checking for rolling resistance on same make and model tires. As for the wet weather traction, Kerscher said that “roads play a big role, and OEMs are using different standards.” He concluded that “there is a clear commitment from the tire trade (for the regulation), as we’ve always believed our industry to be progressive.”

The 27th International Reifen Trade Fair will take place at Messe Essen on June 5-8, 2012.

Apollo launches namesake brand in Europe

India-based consumer tire manufacturer Apollo Tyres Ltd. officially launched its Apollo passenger tire brand in Europe at the trade fair.

Apollo is entering the European market with an initial range of five summer designs and two winter designs. Apollo, through its Apollo Vredestein B.V. subsidiary, already markets the Vredestein and Maloya brands in Europe.

“Europe is a very crucial market for us,” says Apollo Chairman Onkar Kanwar. “To make a place for ourselves in this saturated marketplace is not a small task.”

Apollo tires will be distributed in Europe through a network of “hand-picked” retailers. At first, the tires will be available only in Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Apollo “will not walk the wholesale route,” according to Managing Director Neeraj Kanwar. “Our current range will cater to the small and mid-sized segments.”

It will be some time before the Apollo brand is introduced in the United States, according to Rene Wolters, Vredestein Apollo B.V. marketing development manager for the U.S.

“This is mainly due to capacity constraints. That is why the Apollo brand will be sold in only four European countries to start with.

“As capacity increases, so will the number of markets where the brand will be sold. The question is not if the brand will come to the U.S. That will happen, but we are not sure about the timing yet.”

However, Apollo’s Vredestein Wintrac Nextreme ultra-high performance winter tire, which also was launched at the Reifen Trade Fair, will be available in the U.S. in November. It is the successor to the Wintrac xtreme. It will be available in 11 V-, W- and Y-rated sizes in 16- through 22-inch rim diameters. An SUV version, the Wintrac Nextreme SUV, will be available in seven sizes. ■

And the winners are... Reifen Innovation Awards were given out in three categories:

1. Technology & Products. Rema Tip Top GmbH won with its tire repair plaster. The company says its product shortens the working time for tire repairs and is also solvent-free.

2. Services & Marketing Ideas. The off-road professional partner program by Mayerosch Off Road Reifen GmbH & Co. KG won for a virtual tire showcase on the Internet. It allows customers to obtain information about tires, wheel rims and accessories for SUVs and off-road vehicles.

3. Concepts & Processes. Continental Reifen won for its e-invoicing system that permits the secure, paperless exchange of invoices with its customers.

Different countries, same issues -- Dealers abroad cope with the Internet, consumer perception and tire aging

It’s a small world, according to Modern Tire Dealer Publisher Greg Smith, who noticed that tire industry issues and trends overseas sound familiar. Here’s what he heard on the trade show floor during the International Reifen Trade Fair.

• Dealers are concerned with the growing sales of tires through the Internet. One expert claims 4.9% of passenger tire sales are through the Internet.

• Tire pressure monitoring systems create complexities for consumers, and dealers are struggling to properly service them.

• A German research study shows that one-third of passenger cars have at least one tire underinflated.

• A consumer survey asked, “Would you be willing to buy a cheap tire to save money?” The results are in: 82% answered “yes,” while 18% answered “no.”

• The same survey made it clear that to a consumer, “the tire is round and black — nothing more.”

• Industry leaders believe the first tires with built-in sensors will be launched in the next two to three years.

• A recent test on tire aging found that structural integrity went down after 10 years, but still met their safety standards.

Rumors around the show were that there are two or three companies working on “airless” tires similar to Groupe Michelin’s Tweel concept.

Related Topics: conference, convention, Green tires, Reifen Trade Fair, TIA

Greg Smith Publisher
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