LONDON (Dec. 16, 2009)—Continental A.G.'s United Kingdom unit said the domestic market for consumer tires held up in 2009, but tires for commercial vehicles slumped.
Conti said cost-conscious buyers turned to cheaper passenger tires at the expense of premium tires. Fleet managers generally extended the life of vehicles in their fleets, and a government-funded automotive scrap program triggered a disproportionate increase in the sale of small, lightweight cars, resulting in declines of larger, heavier vehicles.
The move toward eco-branded vehicles in the future will result in greater demand for smaller, lower-speed-rated tires in coming years, Conti said.
For commercial tires, the company expects a recovery of sorts in 2010. Conti said fleet operators trended to buy less-expensive tires in reaction to the severe market downturn in 2009.