David Smith, UK Managing Director, Continental

Commercial vehicle tyre market enters 2015 on a positive note

According to the UK managing director for Continental, David Smith, figures for new truck vehicle registrations have revealed that 2014 had been a ‘predictably slow year’ as the market continued to feel the effects of the introduction of Euro 6 legislation.

Speaking at Continental’s media briefing, Mr Smith described the results for 2014 as unsurprising, due in part to the rush to register Euro 5 models before the legislative cut-off dates.  Year-to-date figures released by the SMMT have shown that total registrations for trucks in 2014 were down by 9%, with bus and coach registrations also down for the year by 3%.

However, October saw truck registrations jump by around 70%, which he attributed largely to the introduction of the European Directive for Whole Vehicle Type Approval (WVTA), which came into force on 1st November.

David Smith explained: “WVTA requires any new commercial vehicle to have an approval certificate for both the truck and body before registration.”

In contrast, Mr Smith noted an increase in trailer production of over 20% compared to 2013 figures and an increase of nearly 45% from 2012.  He cited a buoyant UK economy within the transport sector driving demand for new trailers as a reason for the rise in production, as well as a number of older existing trailers which should have been replaced during the recession and are now in desperate need of renewal.

Turning his attention to the UK tyre market, he went on to identify that the replacement market had once again seen an increase in 2014, following on from 2013’s strong results, when forecasting an increase of around 8% on 2013 in the UK.

The Republic of Ireland painted a slightly different picture with forecasts suggesting the Irish market would finish 5% down on 2013.  A broader view of Europe shows the market is up by 3% in 2014, with the strongest growth (7%) recorded in Western Europe.

Compared to previous years there was very little change in the demand for different application areas.  Regional tyres continue to dominate both the UK and Irish market, accounting for 83% of replacement new tyre sales in the UK and 86% in Ireland.  Long distance tyres represent around 7% of the market in both countries with construction and urban making up just 10% of the UK market and 6% in Ireland.  Despite urban applications featuring as the smallest sector of the market, 2014 saw its share increase by 20%.

Mr Smith also revealed that analysis has shown no significant changes in the top five most popular sizes of tyre sold here in the UK and Ireland, when saying “In the UK the top five sizes make up 71% of sales in 2014 and 81% in Ireland.  We do however expect to see changes to the most dominant sizes in the future.  We predict 315/70 22.5 to move into the top five driven by the increase in Euro 6 vehicles on the road, which we expect will replace 295/80 22.5 primarily to cope with the extra weight.”

2014 saw success for a number of innovative products brought to market by Continental Tyres, including new generation tyres and tyre pressure monitoring systems.

“Our generation 3 products have been very well received by the market both here in the UK and Ireland.  We have also had great success with our ContiPressureCheck, tyre pressure monitoring system which we updated in late 2014 with a new feature, Automatic Trailer Learning (ATL).  ATL is able to automatically and wirelessly detect each trailer tyre, even when the trailer is changed.  In 2015 our focus will be on working with telematics companies to integrate our tyre pressure information into existing systems,” explained Mr Smith.

“In 2014 we also launched the first hot retreaded 3rd generation tyres produced at our ContiLifeCycle plant in Hanover, just six months after the new tyre.  The ContiRe EcoPlus HT3 is the retreaded version of the new trailer tyre Conti EcoPlus HT3 launched in January 2014 and maintains all the same benefits.”