Fleet News

Performance tyre prices set to rise

Tyre costs will almost inevitably rise for fleets in future because more cars are being fitted with high performance tyres, according to 'The Fleet Managers Guide to Tyre Management 2002'. The report states that the market for such tyres among new to three year old cars will double over the next two years.

Increasing numbers of V/Z rated tyres are being fitted to cars, when previously they may have had T rated tyres, which can be replaced with budget tyres. It warns fleet managers to look at the present tyre mix on a fleet and evaluate how that may change, and what the cost implications are in future tyre mixes.

With many cars no longer to carrying spare wheels, using run fleet technology or skinny wheels instead, fleets will lose the benefits of a free tyre in the boot, and so the number of tyres required during the life of a car could increase, with costs rising by around 15% as a result.

Tyre industry overview

The tyre market is dominated by Michelin, Bridgestone and Goodyear, with all three strongest in their particular home markets: Michelin in Europe, Bridgestone in Japan and Goodyear in America.

Goodyear is now the largest tyre manufacturer in the world following its merger with Sumitomo in 1999. Together they account for 56% of the world tyre market.

The replacement tyre market in the UK stands at about 22 million tyres a year, with Michelin leading the field with a share of roughly 22%. Dunlop, Goodyear and Pirelli vie for second spot, all with a share of about 8-10%. Michelin, the report adds, is generally the most expensive, but all four are slowly losing share to lower priced tyres, particularly in the budget and mid-range areas.

However, in the fleet sector the premium brands dominate with about 90% of the market. There have also been moves in fleets towards higher speed ratings and lower profile tyres. In 2002, 60% of new cars came with higher end tyres, against 35% six years ago.

For UK company car drivers, only 5%-10% care that the replacement tyre is the same as the worn out one, despite the fact that some manufacturers have had specific tyres made for their vehicles. This has led to many larger fleets doing deals with one or two tyre manufacturers for volume discounts.

The report stated that 'tyre manufacturers need to be more active in convincing British customers of the value and quality in their products relating to their original equipment manufacturer.'

Tyre performance

The Fleet Managers Guide to Tyre Management 2002 collated 24 independent test reports throughout Europe on tyre performance and came up with the following conclusions:

  • Bridgestone was strong on almost all measures, certainly the strongest in wet braking and scored well on comfort. Their only weakness was on noise level. Bridgestone should be seriously considered by all fleet managers.
  • For the third year running, Bridgestone came top of the road test results and did well in the high performance sizes. Continental and Goodyear were second.
  • Recommended as the top wet weather performer was the Goodyear Eagle Ventura, winning in wet handling and wet braking.
  • Vredestein was judged the best of the non-premium brands, and should certainly warrant serious consideration by all fleets.
  • Dunlop was particularly strong in dry conditions, but relatively weak in aquaplaning tests.

    Tips for controlling tyre costs
    1. Keep a look out for the number of tyres being replaced at each service. The number of tyres replaced per visit should average out over a fleet at about 1.75 to 1.90.

    2. Average costs per car per month for tyres should work out at around £8.50 to £10.50 per car on a medium sized fleet. This can be worked out by taking the total monthly costs of tyres, and dividing it by the size of the fleet.

    3. Pay attention to wheel alignment costs. The report recommended that 'if more than 10% of invoices contain charges for alignment you need to investigate the reasons.' Balancing and fitting a valve for a new tyre should costs about £6 excluding VAT, although it can be more expensive for alloy wheels should they need less visible, specially designed balancing weights.

    4. Ensuring tyre pressures are correct is a simple way to keep costs to a minimum. 'Tyres more than 10% away from the recommended pressure may give as much as 20% wear', the report added. It suggested driver education – admitting it is difficult but worth attempting – and regular checks.

    5. Consider any brand policy in relation to: The benefit of like for like replacement of OE equipment, especially on upmarket models. The comparative performance of brands. How important is performance? The possible benefits of using quality mid range tyres such as Firestone, Uniroyal and Vredestein.

    6. Consider moving to an outsourced 'fixed price per car' type of contract offered by some distributors.

    7. Larger fleets should measure the average tyre mileage achieved by certain brands, although this needs a sufficient quantity to eliminate the effects of different drivers and different cars and models.

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