Observance of the rules gives the market value
Round table on tyres and wheels
Infringement of regulations, counterfeiting, and consumer safety are all part of the tyre and wheel business: discussed at an Autopromotec round table, the undertaking to create order is an advantage for everyon
by Mino de Rigo
Those who play at the same table must observe the same rules: “professional correctness and legitimate actions are the fundamental principles of every market that values competition.
The Autopromotec fair was the most appropriate setting for an important round table promoted by Pneurama: “Observance of the rules, an advantage for everyone”, with Corrado Bergagna, chairman of Assoruote; Fabio Bertolotti, director of Assogomma; Angelo Infante, coordinator of Inter-regional management for Emilia Romagna and the Marche Customs Agency; Guido Schiavon, chairman of Federpneus; Maurizio Vitelli, director general of the Ministry for Transport; Lieutenant Colonel Gianfranco Zarro, commander of the La Spezia unit of the Guardia di Finanza.
Those who play at the same table must observe the same rules: “professional correctness and legitimate actions are the fundamental principles of every market that values competition”, emphasized Pneurama Director Renzo Servadei when introducing the round table. Moderated by Quattroruote director Carlo Cavicchi, the debate centred on the business that revolves around wheels and tyres, disregarded regulations, tax infringements, and consumer safety.
Just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court ordered the seizure by the La Spezia Guardia di Finanza (the Financial Guard that is part of the Italian Armed Forces) of over 50,000 alloy rims for cars, products that appear on the market as copies in infringement of the original brands.
Lt. Col. Gianfranco Zarro, commander of the unit responsible for the operation, explained: “Despite appearing to be identical to the originals, these were copies that not only infringed intellectual property rights, they also differed in channel size and a more thorough examination showed marked porosity of the alloy. We therefore decided to have them examined by an expert. Stress and impact resistance tests revealed various instances of broken spokes, cracks in the alloy, deformation and imbalance”. Defects that are not immediately obvious to buyers and are very dangerous as they affect road hold and braking stability.
“And the risks increase” – Assoruote chairman Corrado Bergagna added – “the bigger the wheels. Especially when wheels for heavy and fast vehicles like SUVs show nominal loads of even less than 20-25% of that required. The dangerous relationship between prices that are too low and safety is, in general, a question of quality. We are counting on the Ministry for Transport to issue special homologation standards” to protect manufacturing standards and the geometrical compliance of the wheel-brake-steering unit.
Wheels and standards
Maurizio Vitelli, director general of the Ministry for Transport stated, “Very soon we will issue a decree regarding wheels and tyres that will fill the gaps in existing standards; and then, through the combined law 120/2010 (which recently amended the Highway Code with regard to safety), we will regularize their homologation and approval. A special technical team has been working on it for over a year and it will be ready very soon. Downstream of the new decree, the homologation of wheels will be mandatory”.
To counteract the distortion of the Community market caused by the importation of below-cost wheels from China, last year the EU imposed an antidumping duty of 20.6%.
“The Customs Agency” – said Angelo Infante, coordinator of inter-regional management for Emilia Romagna and Le Marche – “has the tools to stop anyone who tries to circumvent the antidumping duty. Aimed at combining the need to protect tax and other interests (health and safety primarily) with that of accelerating commercial traffic, of all the shipments presented (last year almost 12 million customs declarations, for a total of almost 17 million individuals), we focus only on the shipments at risk.” The selection is made on the basis of risk analysis by a sophisticated IT system (called the “customs control circuit”), which also takes into consideration evidence of antidumping circumvention, such as moving from one tariff position to another or from one origin to another. And we also investigate variations in traffic flows. The data are processed in real time and controls are carried out on the basis of these (documents, goods and also by scanning goods vehicles and containers).
In 2005 the Agency achieved international recognition for its creation of a multimedia databank fed by the holders of intellectual property rights. As Community regulations give importers the freedom to choose the port of entry into the European Union, the Agency has promoted coordination at Community level to prevent fraud.
Regulations for tyres
The tyre sector also has its share of irregular activities and homologation in observation of safety standards is one of the hottest subjects if it is true that in Milan some years ago, of the 5,000 motorcycles checked by the police, one in five had non-homologated tyres. The subsequent amendment of the Highway Code not only prohibited circulation but also the importation, sale and mounting of tyres without European homologation, and provided for the seizure of material that did not conform “but,’ – Fabio Bertolotti, director di Assogomma, emphasized – “it is estimated that over 3% of the vehicles in circulation in Italy still do not comply with this regulation. A significant figure considering that there are 36.5 million vehicles in Italy. This is why thorough checks by customs can stop those who feed this market.
Another European regulation refers to highly aromatic oils that have been banned in the EU since the beginning of 2010”. Etrma, the European Association of Tyre Manufacturers, found that 11% of the products tested did not conform. “We ask that the relevant authorities carry out controls of the market to protect consumers and the tyre manufacturing and retail industries.
“On our part” – Federpneus chairman Guido Schiavon stated – “we are absolutely determined to ensure that these regulations are observed. From constant dialogue with state administration to protect those who operate correctly and honestly by preventing VAT evasion, to a strong commitment to safety, that has become a priority since we have been collaborating on drawing up law 122/92 which aims to ensure higher levels of road safety and governs and qualifies the tyre specialist category by establishing precise technical requirements and specific equipment”.