An all-round fair
Autopromotec special: tyres and wheels
The international exhibition recently held in Bologna confirmed the global interest in the wheel and tyre sector. Increased quality and new regulations for protecting consumers and operators
by Duilio Damiani
“Green” products have multiplied and preparations are being made for energy classifications in accordance with the imminent European label expected in November 2012, which will enable buyers to identify a tyre by three basic values: efficiency, grip on the wet, and noise.
The expected interest was unfailingly demonstrated in all its myriad aspects. The Autopromotec fair is the preferred meeting point for buyers and operators in all areas of the automotive sector. An event that is increasingly oriented towards globalization, demonstrated by the attention paid by world-level companies to quality, savings and rational industrialization.
These are the fundamental subjects that animated the stands of wheels and tyres, with focus groups and conferences dedicated to the sector. Entire pavilions, dynamic trials in the external areas, over one hundred exhibitors of new tyres, nineteen operating in the retread segment, and about eighty exhibitors of steel and alloy wheels and rims: these are the participation figures of a fair where established products and interesting new ones totally captured the interest of visitors.
The leitmotif of the entire sector linked to rolling rubber was, without doubt, dominated by the ever-increasing reduction in rolling resistance. The crucial aspect of the new homologations of latest- generation cars, energy saving and reduced CO2 emissions, were the main factors for assessing a tyre, both by manufacturers – with electric vehicles at the top, obviously – and by users of premium products who in recent years have become increasingly sensitive to efficient consumption. “Green” products have multiplied and preparations are being made for energy classifications in accordance with the imminent European label expected in November 2012, which will enable buyers to identify a tyre by three basic values: efficiency, grip on the wet, and noise.
The new products presented by the main players in the sector were accompanied by the economy ranges aimed mainly at users of city cars but also GT saloons and high-performance small sports cars. Production processes and the raising of the technological threshold throughout the sector showed the entry of emerging companies that are still fairly unknown to the general public, but are investing in growing the market. Not just aggressive price lists, performance in line with sector references, and impactful design, but also an increasingly widespread commercial presence, guaranteed by long-established consortia and distributors throughout Italy.
Always of considerable importance at the fair are the operators in the retread sector, with ranges of retreaded tyres mainly for heavy transport. The offer focused on commercial transport, from vans to trucks and dumper trucks, with very competitive price lists. The choice is still a very subjective one based on use and specific requirements. Technological evolution increasingly involves materials more than manufacturing processes, in the search for greater specific lightness and compounds that meet the demand for rolling resistance.
And there is a close connection between the rolling elements that are the stars of Autopromotec. Many new additions were announced (and hoped for) by wheel manufacturers that have been waiting for a clear standard for some time now. Italian manufacturers want legislative recognition that will provide clear and unambiguous standards for the entire cycle from manufacture, importation and final application. A brake, for example, on the phenomenon of unauthorized copies of poor quality which, in addition to damaging the economy of the entire category, pose a serious hazard for driving safety, given the ever-increasing structural loads the wheel must support for powerful vehicles and even for the middle or small classes mainly targeted by this parallel market.
The strong point is the unequivocal aptitude for excellence of many manufacturers that for years have been committed to the use of top quality materials, finishes and technologies in the search for design, exclusiveness and weight containment. And with the advent of electric vehicles, narrow wheels with low resistance from the smaller contact patch are appearing (or, rather, reappearing) and are specifically designed to reduce the friction produced with alternative engines.