SAILUN BACK ON TRACK! NEW ECO AND TOURING SUMMER TIRES
Tires and investments
The rallying cry, Europeanize and stand out: the Chinese manufacturer aims at increasing investment in the old continent and, at the same time, update its product range making room for new HP car tires such as the Atrezzo Eco and Atrezzo Elite as well as getting ready to launch a brand new all-season option
Mino De Rigo
A subsidiary in London and agents in virtually every European country, the capacity to renovate its range of product on a yearly basis, European and U.S. based R&D centers all driven by a marketing strategy comparable to premium brands. As clearly shown during the launch of two new HP summer tires, Atrezzo Eco and Atrezzo Elite, last September on a race track near Lohèac, France. Worth over 15 billion Euro, the thirteen year old Chinese company is marching full speed ahead, leading campaigns of business acquisitions following the example of other well established Asian manufacturers.
Rinaldo Farnese, official importer and supplier of Sailun products in Italy, says: "It has already happened for some of the best Japanese and Korean manufacturers: from obscure and unknown companies to premium brands. I am convinced that Sailun has the credentials to gain a larger share of the market", using a rather peculiar approach. “ What marks the difference between us and many other Chinese manufacturers – underlines Martin West, CEO of Sailun Europe – is our decision to operate directly in the European market through a subsidiary and a Research & Development center (other two are based in China and the U.S.)and develop specific products for the Europen market”.
An increasingly large range of products
“In essence, the size, quality and consistency of our investments”, destined to renovate the company’s entire range of products within the next three years, “ clearly sets us apart from many of our competitors”. Next, the launch of two new summer tires, Atrezzo Eco and Atrezzo Elite, replacing the Sh-402 model. Futhermore, besides the already announced and much anticipated Atrezzo 4Seasons, two new winter tires are expected for next year, and two more winter designs, specially made for the North European market are in the pipeline and expected between 2017 and 2018; adding to all this, there are new summer and winter tires for 4x4s and light transport vehicles expected in the near future;that means eight new tires to be released in a 3-year period.
But now, let’s focus on the two new tires, expected to hit the Italian market during November,Atrezzo Eco and Atrezzo Elite. The private estate Manoir de l'Automobile, which, in addition to hosting a 2.2 km circuit has a car museum with over 400 vehicles, was the setting chosen for the debut. To test the Atrezzo Eco, the more economical option, two city cars were available, a Renault Twingo and the electric Zoe, driven over three quick tests in succession simulating urban conditions: a zigzag course at a speed of 50 km / h, to evaluate lateral grip, followed by an emergency braking at 50 km/h while steering as to avoid an obstacle and regaining the initial line; finally braking in a straight line just before the intervention of the abs system to evaluate braking control. What emerges is a tire capable of coping with the most different circumstances, able to easily find the set course after a slalom or locking brakes; and able, at the same time, to postpone abs activation thanks to its modulated braking.
Despite the absence of instrumental measurements and the lack of a comparative reference, the perception is one of quick response and comfort, not to mention the low noise level. The “Eco-friendly” option by Sailun, comes in 27 different sizes ranging from 155/65 R13 to 175/65 R15, and boasts an asymmetric tread pattern with three open longitudinal grooves and lateral tread blocks interspersed with sipes. With the Atrezzo Eco, Sailun engineers have openly aimed at steering responsiveness, efficiency and mileage. The tire considered here, size 175/65 R15, boasted a 70 db noise level as well as a C rating for rolling resistance and a B rating for wet grip. On the other hand, the Atrezzo Elite comes in 35 sizes ranging from a 185/55 R14 to 225/60 R18, tested for the occasion on a Renault Clio Tce equipped with a set of 195/55 R16. A test aimed at evaluating the tire’s general response to lateral accelerations as well as load transfer, testing its dynamic handling and braking, in tight driving conditions: the test took place on a dry portion of the race track. What clearly emerged was the touring nature of the tire, though perfectly able to respond when more is required, with great handling even when driving at a steady pace, without braking, through a challenging slalom, then over a series of sharp corners ending with a 180° turn: three consecutive tests at different speed (40,50 and 56 km/h) to compare the tire’s behaviour in different dynamic conditions.
An All-season in the pipeline
Which gives an overall feeling of control, a substantially neutral handling even on the verge of skidding, without noticeable vibrations on the steering wheel or screeching tires. The impression is of a solid tire, whose classification (for the Elite 195/55 R16) corresponds to a noise level of 70 dB and a C rating for driving smoothness and a B for braking in wet conditions. Going into details we are looking at a tire that features a HP asymetric tread pattern with four longitudinal grooves, strong shoulder blocks and a peculiar tread design aimed at optimizing the contact patch and anti- hydroplaning properties. Another notable feature is the innovative compound consisting of highly dispersible silica mixed with advanced SBR. Currently not available, the new Atrezzo 4Season is expected to complete the range: a European style asymetric all-season, with 3D grooves and zigzag siping on the inner part of the tread while externally the tread blocks are larger than usual, and expected to make its debut next year in 5 different sizes, alongside the above mentioned tires and two UHP car tires already in the company’s portfolio, the Atrezzo Z4+As and Atrezzo Zsr. The latter, launched in a similar fashion last year, and currently available in 52 sizes positions itself at the top-of-the-range, and showed all its huge potential during repeated laps around the track on the more sporty Renault Clio Rs and Megane Rs. Ending the event, a show by the driving instructors behind the wheel of a tuned up Chevrolet Corvette, a Porsche Gt3 and a BMW M3. In other words, not just city cars and mid-end sedans in Sailuns DNA, but a competitive soul that aspires to provide the most thrilling driving experience.
ITALY: A PIECE IN A STRATEGY ACROSS THE BOARD
All the events around Sailun in Italy were and still are written by Farnese Pneumatici, that by including the Chinese brand in its portfolio of products, was interested "in finding a good budget brand, not realizing that what they got was a range of products positioned, for range, quality and marketing support, right up close to the standard segment". For Rinaldo Farnese this fact is "confirmed by the feedback from retailers". Supported directly through seven depots located in Viterbo, Rome, Cagliari, Bari and Pontedera (Pi), while four sub-distributors have been outsourced in northern Italy. The estimated sales for 2015 is around 150 thousand pieces (12 thousand of which are truck tires), in line with last year. Italy currently accounts for 7% of Sailun’s sales volumes in Europe, which aims to raise the profile of the brand with a large range of services for its distribution partners. "We will close the year - says Martin West, general manager of Sailun Europe – with a sales increase of close to 55%. We are committed to supporting our partners by providing them with the right products at the right time and with the right value for money". Founded in 2002, the Sailun group has 4 factories and an annual production capacity of 7.6 million truck tires and 41.6 million tires for cars and light transport vehicles.