By Dave Crinson, sales manager, car fleets UK and ROI, Michelin
As a nation, our favourite topic of conversation is the weather – we are known for it worldwide. So it still amazes me every year how ill prepared we are to deal with it.
Certain industries try and encourage forward thinking – supermarkets are already selling Easter eggs! But in terms of cold weather tyres, the UK is still years behind its European counterparts.
Between 2009 and 2011, the cold weather tyre market grew by 50% in Europe, and in 2011 alone a total of 100 million cold weather tyres were sold on the continent.
That means cold weather tyres accounted for one out of every three tyres sold in Europe*.
Perhaps that is not such a surprise when you consider that the use of cold weather tyres is mandatory in 11 European countries: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden.
But when is the weather-obsessed UK going to seriously catch on to the importance of having two sets of tyres to maintain safe driving throughout the year? Especially fleets which rely on mobility for business.
Early adopters have included ambulance services, utility companies and supermarket delivery services – all of which have no choice but to keep moving whatever the weather.
Yet realistically, all fleets which take duty of care and safety seriously should be looking at the options.
Cold weather tyres can halve stopping distances on snow compared to standard tyres, potentially giving drivers the chance to avoid an incident.
And cold weather is not just about snow and ice, although we get our fair share of that nowadays.
The benefits of cold weather tyres begin when the temperature drops to 7°C or lower.
UK fleets looking seriously at long-term business plans should learn lessons from our European neighbours and factor in cold weather tyres. They can’t afford not to.
Furthermore, they need to remember to plan early. Increasingly high demand in Europe means UK orders for winter 2013/14 need to be placed before the end of March to guarantee stock.
*Statistics provided by Logiciel Channel Planning TGI (2011)