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Growing together with the client

There are many advantages in the match between tyres and wheels in steel and alloy: here is the formula of the Austrian group that is sharpening its weapons in view of the mandatory wheel rim type-approval, between a renewed e-commerce, new app and services to retailers.

Francesco Lojola

A touch screen to play with, while waiting at the tyre fitters for the delivery of your car, will suffice to entertain oneself configuring and choosing rims of different shapes and colours.  A virtual representation of a real business: if it’s true that a market in enduring difficulties needs even more  new stimuli,  the latest in technology comes  to the rescue to those who want to grab the attention. Certainly there is no shortage of this in the proposals of rim producers, a normal completion in the portfolio of the specialized dealer. And that nowadays stresses Corrado Bergagna, managing director of Alcar Italy, “should be regarded as an indispensable opportunity. Driven primarily by the changing seasons that distinguishes the sales, where the double set of tyres often leads to take on two sets of rims. And then, the unquestionable convenience to have wheels already complete:  to take off  the winter ones for  the summer ones, and vice versa, in fact, implies not only needing more time, but also indicates  an evident stress for the tyres", with the risk of damage always lurking. Another important aspect is the spread of the pressure sensors TPMS (Tyre Pressure Monitoring System): to damage one can mean having to replace all of them.  In short, it is better if the binomial rim-tyre is inseparable until the final replacement. This improves the productivity of the tyre dealer, the quality of work and even the duration of the individual components that are alternated throughout the year". 


Fitted units on the rise

It is not by chance that even in Italy, the so-called fitted units seem to be increasingly appreciated, that, linked to the winter period, already enjoy a large market in Germany (4 million and 20 million respectively) and in the Nordic countries. This winter Pirelli made a move towards the  tyre dealers with a proposal developed in collaboration with Alcar: winter tyres already mounted on rims or alloy steel, thus offering a faster and competitive service. "The feedback was encouraging” Insists Bergagna. “However, the fitted unit also helps to lengthen the list of the services that the dealer can offer, as is the case with wheel-washing. A further opportunity for the ‘off-season’ periods, this is a service that is very much appreciated by the customers, and in fact, reveals itself to be more and more on demand". In this regard, Alcar has entered into an agreement with the company Ma-Fra, specialised in car care products and equipment. If it is true that the rim appears as an important element in the specialist retailer profession, it is also certain that the proposal should be able to count on adequate  support. This is mainly because it is a technically complex product and not easy to manage. There is often a fear of making a mistake in selecting the rims even among operators: cars which are similar may have different couplings and the differences between the rims for the same car can also be seen in the different hardware, not to mention certificates and approvals, which is always a tricky matter. 


b2b makes the difference

 "Starting from the assumption that today the proposal of rims often takes place online through e-commerce platforms” emphasizes Bergagna “we have made an innovative b2b system. Based on the criterion of configuration, it is a tool that allows you to arrive at the choice of the product starting from the selection of the specific vehicle (brand, model and engine type) so as to identify the rim without making any mistakes, in the context of models only ‘suitable’, at this time approved only by KBA German           (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt), but further filterable on the basis of the ABE ("Allgemeine Betriebserlaubnis"), certification of approval which is more restrictive.

"We believe our b2b is currently the best in the entire European market” continues Bergagna. “The system is integrated with the management software of the wholesaler and offers them, not only the order entry, the database to verify the availability, the times of yield, and the technical support, but also the possibility to download the individual approval documents in pdf. In addition, there is a tool to interactively visualise the vehicle with the selected rims. The graphics are already appealing, but we are still working on it". In March, the new version should be closer to what the car configurators offered online from the automobile manufacturers, making even  possible to choose the specific fittings and  colours of the car from a full range of chromatic  effects. 


Type Approval is the keystone 

Alcar’s app for smart phones and tablets is already available to customers. The app allows, once the owner’s car has been photographed, to superimpose the rims of the chosen model on the image. Other than the entertaining aspect, the application also allows you to locate dealers in the area where you can go for the purchase. "In addition to the quality and service” resumes Bergagna “the design has a decisive importance. There is no doubt, in fact, that if to drive the sale of steel  wheels is the tyre changes in the winter season,  alloy rims can return to a leading role in the spring."

As the managing director of Alcar observes “another contributing factor is the pleasure of change inspired by the aesthetics which is capable of radically transforming the appeal of a car. If the economic contingency does not allow you to change your car, what better way is there to change the aspect of it? Especially given that nowadays manufacturers produce increasingly more beautiful rims at steadily decreasing prices. The aesthetics as a differentiating factor in the foreground, takes of course for granted quality and safety". The long-awaited decree on wheel systems that also regulates the approval of the rims should clear the field of inadequate products." With type approval, requirement of traceability and greater security guarantees the market will be able to back away from comparisons based only on price. A market that focuses largely on sizes between 15" and 17", the combined effect of the crisis and the war on the car that has not only caused the decline of top of the range cars (SUV and sports cars which have the rims forged over 19”), but also a growing general disaffection for the four wheels. Bergagna concludes “A change would, of course, contribute also to the well being of our sector. We live in a historic moment of great difficulty and confusion and it is essential to have a strong intervention by the State, but also all of us have to find ways to interact in the market by offering a new vision. Innovation must be complete: in the product, in the strategies, reports and in responses to the market. The relationship with one’s customer is also essential. They must be a true partner with whom you grow together in trade policies, in technical knowledge and in the training and professionalism."




The Italian subsidiary of the Alcar group in Brianza: initially in Desio (MB,) and after in Seregno (MB) a warehouse with over 6,000 square metres of outdoor and indoor areas, opened in 2004. Today, the celebrations for its first ten years; an important anniversary for the Austrian multinational with sales offices in 16 countries and covering 7 million units, more than 4 of which in steel (branded Kfz) and the rest in alloy (of brands Aez, Dotz, Dezent and Enzo), represent the main sales in the European industry of aftermarket rims. These are produced in three factories located in Switzerland, Germany and Indonesia. In Italy, Alcar, which counts on about a fifth of the national market, has 12 employees and a dozen agents in the territory, targeted at approximately 700 partners, among wholesalers and dealers: a large part to tyre specialists that form the reference channel.

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