In my Modern Tire Dealer column for November I wrote about the current "confusion" in Europe when it comes to tire shows, stating that I thought the increase in exhibitions over here was looking chaotic.
At the time the main concern was centered around two large shows in Germany -- one in Frankfurt (Reifen 2018), the other in Cologne (The Tire Cologne 2018) -- being staged within four months of each other. So it was rather intriguing to recently receive an invitation late in November to a special pre-event European Press Conference from Koelmesse GmbH, which will be staging Tire Cologne next May.
I was joining an extensive amount of journalists from magazines throughout Europe on this unprecedented pre-show press conference, which show organizers describe as a unique opportunity to discover just why The Tire Cologne (TTC) will be breaking new ground and presenting a new and improved type of trade fair, the result of three years of intensive planning.
In his opening speech, by Koelnmesse CEO and President Gerald Bose pointed out that Tire Cologne intends to take the concept of traditional European tire shows to an exciting new level of intensity and professionalism that will cover every aspect of the industry, ranging from passenger tires right through to the large commercial, agricultural and mining sectors.
It was very obvious from the start of the presentation that Tire Cologne was taking a very positive and active approach to its debut into what is known as a highly competitive market, and it was revealed that so far over 90% of show space has already been sold, with 600 companies exhibiting. The list includes all of the industry's leading top 10 manufacturers.
This bold declaration was convincingly backed up by encouraging statements from the following brands.
Bridgestone: “TTC is creating an ideal trading environment for an international tire show as a true business and information platform.”
Goodyear: "A great partner strength for the future and important stage for business communications.”
Michelin: “An impressive and much more international tire trade show environment, which is going in the right direction.”
Continental: “A very international event right in the center of Europe, with specialized areas such as waste management and fleet solutions all under one roof.”
To give an additional edge to the conference, several automotive experts were invited to give an interesting presentation on how the entire concept of driving looks set to change in the long-term future as constant new technology goes from the drawing board to reality. It seems that drivers in Europe and on an international basis will be faced with many more innovative changes in the future, such as tires adjusting to speed and being repaired whilst being driven. These are fascinating suggestions, but not entirely unbelievable when you consider how fast automotive developments are being introduced.
We were also told additional interesting facts about what to expect at TCCC, which will be spread over four halls (6 through 9) and include tire and wheel manufacturers having their own specific area -- including a special workshop section. There will also be a specific training section for the Original Equipment and Aftermarket sectors.
I spoke exclusively with Ingo Riedeberger, a director of Koelnmesse, and he explained that TTC will be a truly digital trade fair with a lot of emphasis on virtual reality. “At the same time we will be placing an increased amount of attention towards the retreading and recycling aspects of the industry, which in our opinion have been neglected in the past. And there will be a special Recycling Forum, which will incorporate different topics being presented and discussed.
“Koelnmesse has worked extremely hard to create a comprehensively ‘international’ show that will appeal to tire and automotive professionals around the world," he said. "We are looking to lead by example with new ideas and directions to establish TTC as a unique approach to future tire shows.”
Following the conference we were given an extensive tour of the halls where the show will be held. They are extremely impressive, and I came away from the event with a very positive impression of what visitors can expect from TTC next May. Taking nothing away from the respected reputation of the Reifen Show that will be staged later in the year (which will be held concurrently with Automechanika Frankfurt in the Frankfurt Fair and Exhibition Centre in Germany Sept. 11-15), there is no doubt that Koelnmesse has "thrown down the gauntlet" and will try to raise the bar in terms of a modern and efficient tire shows for the future.
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.