Among all the tire sectors for automobiles high performance tires have experienced a relentless growth in recent years and could soon surpass regular tires in sales
As demands and needs change, new technologies, vehicle design and power units will transform the way hauliers and fleet managers work, and this poses new challenges to tire manufacturers. At the Daf Driver Challenge, which took place at the Goodyear test track in Colmar-Berg, Luxembourg, Pneurama spoke with David Anckaert, Goodyear's Vice President Commercial Europe.
As far as tires are concerned, what are the current trends in Europe and Italy in the commercial segment and how are the various brands under the Goodyear umbrella addressing them?
"Italy is no different from the rest of Europe, even if the market is more fragmented than in other countries. As elsewhere, products can no longer disregard tailored services: fleet managers are increasingly asking for an integrated approach in which different factors interact and become complementary. The Italian market, for example, welcomed our Omnitrac range: the importance of having a strong product able to deliver consistent off-road and mixed-road performance, as our Durashield technology is able to guarantee, has been fully understood".
Fleet solutions are increasingly in demand. How is Goodyear planning to address this need now and in the future?
"First and foremost, we visit companies to understand the specific needs of each type of work: for those who work in the supply chain with just-in-time services, for example, we rely heavily on predictive systems to minimize downtime. Our services start from a constant monitoring of every single tire: for example, pressure and temperature, collected with telematic systems for long distance carriers, and with monitoring gates for fleets working locally. Thanks to the telematic systems, each single alarm is associated with the speed and position of the vehicle, which means the driver can be contacted to receive advice on the most suitable behaviour in any specific situation: if the pressure loss is slow and the destination is near, for example, you can tell him to inflate the wheel, proceed with the delivery and then go to the nearest tire dealer. TPMS signals can also highlight brake problems, such as overheating; all data is stored and can be analysed later, for example to find out who has been neglecting regular checks. Telematics solutions are on the rise, but they need a qualified network. At the moment only well-structured fleets are making the most of this kind of technology. However, small and medium sized fleets tend to be more innovative, as they often have special needs that can be met by adequate telematics systems, while large fleets have more standardised needs that can be satisfied with solutions already found on the market".
What are the strengths of the KMAX Gen-2 and FUELMAX Gen-2 ranges?
"Well, first of all their ability to adapt to very different conditions and traffic rules, as required by long-distance transport operators. FUELMAX Gen-2 tires, are designed to reduce fuel consumption and cope with winter conditions, as evidenced by the 3PMS marking, and are ideal for those who travel mostly on motorways - the FUELMAX Performance version, instead, targets vehicles that move exclusively on motorways. FUELMAX features improved traction and braking performance and, thanks to a new compound, 7% longer mileage. The KMAX, on the other hand, is designed for "regional" use, which does not just mean short distances, but a mix of motorways and local roads. Casings have also been re-designed to ensure regular tread wear and 25% higher grip on the drive axle. The new models have maintained the life cycle of their predecessors: first re-grooving is followed by retreading, then a second re-grooving brings the casing to the end of its life".
How are OEMs evolving?
"Traditionally we enjoy good relationships with all European manufacturers, who collaborate with us in the design phase evaluating our tires from an aerodynamic point of view; our partnership with Daf is particularly important. The market is declining and Europe is witnessing a drop in industrial vehicle registrations, while commercial vehicles up to 3.5 tons are growing. This will certainly affect the tire market. In the future, we can expect the rise of tires designed for the special needs of eco-friendly vehicles: CNG and LNG have the same requirements as diesel, while electric and hydrogen vehicles will need new casings and treads due to different weight distribution".
As industrial vehicles are also being electrified, what are the challenges for the tire makers?
"Rather than electric vehicles, we are addressing a scenario we call FACE (Fleet, Autonomous, Connected, Electric). Vehicles will be increasingly grouped and managed in large fleets, there will be more and more autonomous driving systems, greater interaction between vehicles (V2V), vehicle and infrastructure (V2I) and between vehicle and authorities. But one thing seems certain, electric units will become more popular, driven by cuts in CO2 emissions expected between now and 2030".