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Autopromotec Special: tires and wheels
During the 2015 edition of the biennial event hosted in Bologna, halls dedicated to the complete wheel unit reserved numerous novelties, promoting renovation and seasonal tire changes
What will the future of the tire be? Hard to say without fear of being contradicted. Certainly the picture offered by the last Autopromotec exhibition in Bologna, now in its 26th edition, provides us with a comprehensive view of the present situation, featuring a substantial seasonality of the products, able to ensure the best possible performance in specific climatic conditions, supported to some extent by a few all season lines providing a valid compromise, useful in urban areas or particularly mild winters. Of the 157,000 square meters of exhibition space available to accommodate approximately 1,600 exhibitors, five exhibition halls hosted wheels and tires, the real stars of a show that recognized the wheel unit as a whole, as the natural consequence of the drive train in any motor vehicle. With new brands making their appearance on the market, traditional brands consolidate their market share with updated offers and widely distributed service networks, aimed at offering increasingly accurate and complete aftermarket services.
Under the spotlight, as always at Autopromotec, the issue of road safety of which the tire, as the only contact with the road surface, remains a crucial element. In fact, the stand Pneumatici sotto controllo (tires under control), a campaign promoted by both the associations Assogomma and Federpneus, could not be missing. Here tire specialists found the perfect meeting point to establish good relations with both associations as well as the Traffic Police responsible for preparing a full program dedicated to the industry’s professionals highlighting the importance of tires. In their dedicated area, a rundown of the initiatives that both associations have been promoting for the tire industry and the results of these years of hard work was there for all to see. It was possible, therefore, for all the sector’s operators to make contact with those who represent them at institutional level to be properly informed on the latest news and possible future legislative developments, and receive a detailed picture of the various activities, including tire control, performed by the Traffic Police.
Nevertheless, the “lion’s share” belonged, as always, to premium manufacturers. This year’s event, in fact, featured a number of the world’s largest industrial groups, which, alongside some of the traditional mid-sized manufacturers, brought the overall presence to record well over 100 brands.
Starting from this issue’s technical review, Pneurama will present some of the latest and most meaningful products, while the focus of this brief article is based on the main market trends observed during the 2015 Autopromotec show.
The role played by all-season tires compared to full winter products held the centre stage. A number of producers unveiled their all-season options suitable for temperate zones like the continent’s southern coastal areas, where the risk of bad weather, cold and snowfall is actually marginal, while maintaining an increasingly specialized and advanced solution for most of the Italian territory, where cold temperatures, ice and bad weather still significantly affect the safety of our vehicles.
TPMS sensors represented a further leitmotiv of the event. For the first time, in fact, electronics makes its appearance in the tire specialist sector, as both manufacturers and tire dealers displayed a strong determination not to miss out on the opportunities represented by this technological development despite the natural difficulties when approaching a new form of activity: considering the increasingly invasive role played by electronics on motor vehicles, acquiring the necessary skills in this area represents a qualifying factor for the tire specialist. Consequently, a number of interesting new proposals were presented during the fair especially around fleet management, as a result of the cooperation with vehicle manufacturers.
Important also the presence of service networks with their business proposals centered around managing contacts with large leasing companies, a booming industry that carries a number of management issues that the different networks are trying to address.
As part of the comprehensive management of the tire, “from the cradle to the grave”, retreaders play an important role alongside large traditional manufacturers, for both products as well as equipment and materials, while small, niche manufacturing companies, specialized in, for example, off-road tires, were also present. Disposal of end-of-life tires saw the presence of virtually all the sector’s main consortia: a sector in which Italy, thanks to a management system that made it possible within a few years to address and resolve many of the problems related to ELTs, attracted the interest of a number of foreign authorities.
Let us not forget, in fact, that Autopromotec is, during odd numbered years, the biggest International trade fair for both tires and tire equipment and, therefore, many foreign exhibitors made their presence felt during the event. The many exhibition halls saw the presence of tire dealers coming from countries traditionally associated with this activity, as well as many visitors from the Far East. Particularly noteworthy in fact, was the presence, for both visitors and exhibitors, of Far East Asian companies that played a major role in filling the halls traditionally dedicated to tires – 19, 20 and 22- making it necessary to include hall 31 and part of 15.
Autopromotec confirmed itself as the international benchmark for the sector. In Bologna, visitors were able to meet up with large tire manufacturers, companies specialized in the production of service equipment, as well as retreading specialists. In this regard, Autopromotec 2015 also hosted two interesting follow-up meetings and in-depth international debates dedicated to the retreading sector: May 21 was the date of the general meeting by BIPAVER - European Retread Manufacturers Association, as well as the presentation of ALARNEU - Latin American Retread Manufacturers Association, during which the sector’s current situation was analyzed, in order to study and set up future strategies to cope with the changes taking place in the Latin American market.
You cannot have a tire without its wheel; therefore, the latter was also featured during the event. Aggressive designs with thin spokes and large diameters were the common thread by all the leading high-end wheel manufacturers, to better enhance the sophisticated body shape and wide wheel arches of the most popular super-sports GT vehicles, allowing a glimpse at the braking unit, always on display with bright colors, both standard and customized; obtained not only through molding processes, but also through compression techniques no longer the exclusive heritage of top brands, ensuring qualities of resistance and lightness very similar to exclusive forged products, but with decidedly lower prices.
To be stylistically always up to date, trendy sports cars cannot disregard concave wheels, more or less pronounced (often limited by the space left free by the brake calipers), with bright or opaque colors, among which dark colors appear to be very popular, increasing the aggressiveness even of the most docile looking berlinetta.