The annual report, called 'The Fleet Managers Guide to Tyre Management 2002' found that prices can vary by nearly a third, depending on suppliers, leaving fleet executives responsible for buying maintenance services with little alternative but to keep their eyes peeled.
Tyre industry expert David Openshaw, who compiled the report, said car tyres have always shown 'a surprising volatility and variation' over a short period of time. The report selected 15 key tyre sizes and obtained and compared six quotes from major tyre retailers. In the premium brand section, prices fluctuated by 28%, and if one specific brand was asked for, the variation would have been 'considerably greater than 25%'.
However, retail prices for a typical fleet size (195/60 VR 15) have decreased by 2.4% in the last year.
Fleet prices can be less volatile than retail prices due to longer term purchasing arrangements and the fact that retail offers are often responding to local or national competition. The report recommends fleet managers check the long-term tyre prices they are working with against current retail prices at regular intervals, to avoid missing out on sudden drops in price.
In the past, retail prices have sometimes been lower than fleet prices, although this is not the case at the moment, the report says.
It explains: 'Most fleet prices are now net prices rather than a discount of list price.' And it added: 'Some distributors offer fleets a fall back to the retail price if this is lower than the fleet price. However, so many retailers now offer some form of price promise along the lines of 'if you find a better price locally we'll refund the difference'.' This means it is sometimes difficult to know what the retail price really is.'
The report concludes that the problem stems mainly from changes in exchange rates between the Pound and the Euro. With tyres easy to import from the continent and specifications generally the same throughout mainland Europe, even small fluctuations of 2 to 3% in the exchange rate can be enough to spark importing, which has the effect of pushing retail prices down.
The report concluded: 'Generally exactly the same specification is sold throughout all European countries. Therefore, changes in exchange rates or prices in one particular country quickly have an effect on the UK market.'
|Premium tyre prices|
|Tyre size||Range of best prices (inc. valve, balance and VAT)||% Variation from highest price|
|175/65TR 14||£39 - £61||36.0|
|175/65HR14||£49 - £69||28.9|
|175/70TR14||£41 - £56||26.8|
|185/70HR14||£48 - £75||36.0|
|185/65HR14||£47 - £67||29.8|
|185/65HR15||£51 - £75||32.0||195/65HR15||£56 - £80||30.0||195/65VR15||£52 - £82||36.6||195/60VR15||£58 - £88||34.1||195/55VR15||£72 - £90||20.0||205/65VR15||£75 - £99||24.2||205/60VR15||£60 - £85||29.4||205/55VR15||£73 - £90||18.9||205/50VR15||£63 - £90||30.0||205/50ZR16||£84 - £141||40.4|