Reifen 2016: Tire review
With clouds looming on the 2018 event in Frankfurt, the German trade fair has once again offered a broad overview on the sector’s innovations, many of which relate to winter and all-season products. Considerable efforts in the commercial field, with truck tires and retreads under the spotlight
From May 24 to 27, during Reifen’s 29th edition, the continental tire sector met once again in Essen, for the last time. As announced in recent months, the 2018 edition will be held in Frankfurt from the 11th to the 15th of September, simultaneously with Automechanika, the new partner of the event. The last time for the Reifen show in Essen was characterized by a second dominant theme, besides tires, equipment, services and materials related to tires, a question everyone heard at least once during the fair: what to do in 2018? Indeed, since in two years’ time Germany will host two international tire events, with the first edition of “Tyre” in Cologne scheduled from May 29 to June 1, 2018, which was already announced during the 2014 Reifen event by BRV, the powerful German Association currently at loggerheads with the Ruhr exhibition center. And since many operators in the sector predict that within two years, given the direct competition between the two events, one will have to succumb, it is only natural that many are trying to figure out which will be the winning horse. Some are focusing on integrating tire services with vehicle repairs and maintenance (according to Reifen’s organizers, over 90% of the visitors stated that the space dedicated to workshop repair and maintenance is becoming increasingly important for their activities), whereas another party claims that this contamination will be viewed as an inconvenience by many operators.
Meanwhile, among uncertainties and strategies in view of 2018, exhibitors recorded a 10% increase compared to two years ago with an Average Order Value of 112,317 Euro. On the other hand, the number of visitors and exhibitors remained stable, just under 20,000, and 675 respectively, from 43 countries. After Germany (183 exhibitors) and China (165), Italy, with 55 companies participating was the third country for number of exhibitors, with other countries considerably outdistanced.
Not much to be said as far as new innovative products, at least in the automotive segment, with premium brands leaving the way open to second brands with their winter and ever more popular all-season products. New products that have one thing in common, the search for a “value for money” positioning on the market, and not in terms of purchasing price alone but also in terms of mileage, as many exhibitors insisted during the event.
As for the theme "Tomorrow's tires", much of it was centered around the development of tires dedicated to electrically powered cars. Falken unveiled its concept tire designed for the Mitsubishi eX prototype, a futuristic all-electric SUV. Two other concept solutions on display from Falken were the "A-A Tyre Label" and "Silent Core", which perfectly represent the main developments in the automotive field. Comfort and efficiency, on the other hand, is the philosophy inspiring Yokohama’s prototypes, with an updated version of its "Outside Fin AerodynamicsConceptTyre", a research based on the use of “fins” on the outer sidewall of the tire to reduce energy consumption by reducing aerodynamic drag; same purpose but different strategy in the second prototype displayed by the Japanese manufacturer: "BluEarth Air - Ultra LightweightConceptTyre" a project under way for several years now, which resulted, approximately, in a 30% weight reduction.
The transport sector is buzzing
A great buzz was clearly felt around the industrial section of the fair, with several new launches by most manufacturers. Starting from Pirelli’s R:01 Triathlon, a new versatile line of regional tires for the European market, suitable for all-year-round use, as highlighted by the 3PMSF markings on both drive and steering axle, as well as long-distance travelling. Developed to offer high mileage and energy efficiency, it promises to cut down operating costs thanks also to its great retreadability, to the point that it was unveiled alongside Pirelli’s new cold retreading solution, the TR: 01 Triathlon Novateck.
First time in Europe for Yokohama’s BluEarth 110L, the first truck tire built with the company’s low environmental impact compound, normally found on cars, which favors the reduction of rolling resistance and improves durability.
Truck tires under the spotlight also at Bridgestone with its new “On / Off” series (M-STEER 001, M-DRIVE 001 and M-TRAILER 001), with special consideration being given to retreads as well, evident from the new Bandag BDR-C all-season tire designed for trucks and busses, which, thanks to its new and innovative compound aims to increase both mileage and consistency of performance. At the same time, the Basys system, an integrated solution to help fleets and tire dealers manage their casing assets was also launched.
The commercial segment certainly appeals to GiTi Tires as well, a newcomer on the European market which launched, in Essen, its GT Radial Maxmiler WT2, a tire specifically designed as a winter product on light commercial trucks, available from the second half of 2016.
Reifen Innovation Awards: a look at the future
The transport segment earned Michelin the 2016 Innovation Awards 2016, thanks to its X Line Energy Triple A range, and has become the first manufacturer to offer class A commercial tires on all three positions, drive, steering and trailer axles. In addition to the French manufacturer, other award-winners were: Bridgestone for "special pioneering developments" thanks to its DriveGuard range already launched several months ago, and Corghi for its Uniformity, diagnosis and match-mounting directly on the tire changer with a 25% time saving. Scannect by 4JET Technologies won in the category "Services and Process Optimization", able to equip tires with a permanent and individual QR code easy to read with a smartphone.
Following are some of the news displayed during the trade fair.
New products – Truck
All-season tire with M+S markings designed for trucks and busses, that, thanks to its new and innovative compound, guarantees greater mileage, consistency of performance and superior traction even on mud and snow. Bridgestone’s Tie-Bar technology ensures a uniform distribution of pressure due to greater stiffness of the tread blocks and maximum traction in and the around the contact patch.
Pirelli R:01 Triathlon
The new regional tire range destined for the European market has been designed to operate in all conditions, including critical weather conditions, and is also suitable for long-distance travelling. Thanks to research and development around compounds, structure and tread pattern, this tire aims at meeting the increasingly selective requirements of European fleets in terms of cost containment and efficiency. The steering tire FR: 01 Triathlon has four zigzag grooves and robust longitudinal ribs. The drive axle TR: 01 Triathlon is characterized by directional tread pattern with completely new tread block pitch, Transversal grooves with optimized geometry and new 3d sipe solutions in the central and shoulder tread blocks. The dense siping on both tires provides adequate traction and grip on snow as well as wet roads.
Yokohama BluEarth 110L
The new steer axle Yokohama 110L has a new casing structure called "Spiraloop" , a jointless circumferential direction belt controls the shoulder area of the casing growth and increases anti irregular wear performance and shoulder area durability. Available in size 315/60 R22.5, the 110L also boasts a BlueEarth low environmental impact compound, normally found on cars, which results in lower rolling resistance.
New products – Car
The new Apollo Altrust, unveiled during the Essen event, will soon be on sale across Europe. This new tire for light commercial vehicles has been designed with safety and durability in mind. The uniform weight distribution and stiffer tread pattern enables stability during braking, while fuel efficiency is largely improved thanks to optimized construction & new compounds. The convex footprint guarantees greater resistance to aquaplaning, while the more rigid structure will also enhance mileage and safety.
The new Falken winter tire was created with the goal of reaching new levels of grip on snow, ice and wet roads, as well as improving resistance to aquaplaning and steering stability. According to the manufacturer the goal was successfully accomplished, thanks to the circular profile of the shoulder, the "Miura-Ori" tread design which increases the snow distribution area of the tread, the AdaptiveConstant Pressure technology that maintains constant pressure over the entire contact area, and the 4D-Nano compound, which promises greater traction during acceleration and braking. Available from April 2016 in 10 sizes with rim diameters from 14 to 16 inches, a 55 to 70 aspect ratio, and T and H speed ratings. Other 74 sizes are expected in August 2017.
European debut for the UHP GT RadialSportActive. Product development is the result of the efforts made by GiTi’s European Research and Development center, in Hanover, Germany, and is the first GT Radial range to use an innovative compound which, according to the manufacturer, provides superior grip and even tread wear over time. The range is available with 15" to 19" wheels and W-Y speed ratings, as well as a B for wet grip and B-C in rolling resistance.
Hankook Ventus S1 evo2 SUV
The news is not about the model in itself, already on the market, but the fact that the Ventus S1 evo2 SUV will be the first Hankook tire to be equipped with the new "sound absorber" technology. A special polyurethane foam sheet attached to the inner surface of the tread area that can reduce interior noise levels, caused from the tire’s cavity, between five and seven decibels, thus increasing driving comfort.
Kumho WinterCraft WP71
UHP winter tire designed for large luxury cars, with V-shaped lateral grooves on the Wintercraft WP 71’s shoulder, which disperse water more effectively and improve driving stability on wet road surfaces and offers improved braking characteristics over the predecessor – Kumho claims a 14 per cent shorter distance on wet roads. It will be available in the second half of 2016 in all main sizes for 16 to 19-inch rim diameters.
Maxxis introduces its first runflat for the European aftermarket. The compound has been studied to minimize heat production and casing deformation to ensure the best possible match between tire and wheel ensuring a high level of comfort and greater resistance when driving on a flat tire. Seven sizes are available for 16 to 18 inch wheels.
The renewal of the entire Nexen winter range for the European market starts with this all-season model. Available in 38 sizes for 13 to 17 inch wheels, with T, H and V speed ratings, Nblue 4Season features a tread designed to optimize drainage and thus improve performance in terms of resistance to aquaplaning and grip on wet snow. The central part of the tread was specifically designed for winter use with interconnected 3D tread blocks for better stability and traction on ice, while the outer sections of the same tread stand out in summer especially for cornering stability.
Nokian WR A4
The new Nokian sport winter tire aims to combine great handling and grip at low temperatures. Innovative siping design using 3D Functional Performance Siping as well as Performance TractionSilica compound promise to overcome any sudden change in temperatures and maintain constant performance. The range includes sizes for 16"to 21" wheels and H to W speed ratings, not to mention specific sizes for fully electric cars (like the Tesla Model S), produced with runflat technology, marked XL, which indicates the maximum load capacity for each size. The full range will be on the market in the second part of 2016.
Finally in Europe, the new all-season Toyo for cars sets new standards for the company in terms of traction and braking on snow and ice, as well as mileage, thanks to its new asymmetric tread pattern. The outer parts of the tread have a reduced number of grooves and the interconnected blocks increase the casing’s stiffness, thus greatly improving stability. Available in 22 sizes 22 for 14 to 17 inch wheels with S, T and H speed ratings.
Vredestein Quatrac 5
In 2016, 42 new sizes will be available on the market bringing the total number, in the Quatrac 5 portfolio, to a staggering 126. Sixteen of these, for 16" to 20" wheels, will also boast W and Y speed ratings. The latest generation of Quatrac 5s, launched for the first time in 2014, is designed for use on passenger cars and SUVs (including Volkswagen’s Tiguan, Audi Q5 and A4, and Mercedes Benz GLA). This expansion of the range makes the tires suitable for cars in the luxury segment as well such as the Mercedes Benz GLE, the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery.