COLOGNE, Germany—The European tire industry should not fear the future, despite current stagnation in demand in the main replacement markets, the chairman of Germany's BRV tire trade association said recently.
"As long as primary mobility takes place with vehicles, the market for tires/wheels is secure," Stephan Helm said at a press conference hosted by the organizers of next year's inaugural Tire Cologne tire trade expo.
"Alternative drive types for motorized vehicles have also not changed anything," Helm said. "There is a continuing need for products and services revolving around tires and chassis technology."
The BRV chair went on to highlight the changing requirements for both tires and know-how in the workshops. These, for example, included issues around the latest technical guidelines for mounting truck tires.
Players in the tire replacement market also are being challenged by a high level of "competitive intensity coupled with increasing digitalization in the economy and society," Helm said.
These trends, he said, will require companies to adapt to new information and communications needs of consumers, and develop data-management capabilities and other know-how to support networked vehicles.
With regard to automotive services, Helm noted a growing demand for offerings that encompass the entire vehicle—a trend being driven by competition throughout the aftermarket.
"Companies are reacting to this with diversification into related business areas," Helm said. "This is causing the boundaries between the previously relatively clearly separated distribution channels of the tire trade and the automotive workshop to blur increasingly."
In other words, Helm said, the market is increasingly demanding "everything from one source."
BRV figures show that, last year, around 207 million replacement tires were sold in the passenger, four-wheel-drive and light-truck segments in Europe. This included around 48 million units sold in Germany.
Sales of truck and bus tires, meanwhile, came in at around 10 million units, with Germany accounting for about 30 percent of the total. There were also significant sales of motorcycle tires and tires for agricultural and forestry vehicles and other off-road machinery.
The Tire Cologne is scheduled to take place May 29 through June 1 at the Cologne Fair Grounds. The trade fair organizers Koelmesse GmbH, in partnership with Bipaver, also will host a one-day "Global Retreading Conference" on May 29.