Triangle: conquering Europe
A constantly updated portfolio of products, major investments in quality, and the creation of a new European headquarters (with an all-Italian DNA) are driving the Chinese company in its quest for greater success in the European market. Five new tires, recently unveiled, are the perfect example
Two years after the creation of its European subsidiary, Triangle Tire, looks with satisfaction at the higher-than-expected results already obtained, and aims to invest heavily in renewing its offer. During a recent event held in June at the Circuito Internacional do Algarve, Portugal, Triangle showcased four new tires to be launched on the market plus a fifth, upgraded, model with a new compound, and spoke to us about the company’s history and future prospects. A brand commonly associated with OTR tires (the fourth largest manufacturer in the world, with a market share in Europe close to 15%), Triangle witnessed a turning point following the listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in September 2016: the first step of a path that aims to make the brand globally established with offices and subsidiaries around the world along with ambitious goals in the car segment (in addition to SUVs, 4x4s and light transport). When appointing the general manager for Europe, the choice fell on Corrado Moglia, who in 2017 created the European subsidiary in Milan, made up of a team of six managers, mostly Italian: Angelo Giannangeli is in fact the European marketing director, Mirco Spiniella director of European business development, Roberto Pizzamiglio director of sales for Southern Europe, Marian Gabris director of sales for Eastern Europe and recently added, Luca Mai as director of OTR. Distribution in Italy will rely on Fintyre.
Thanks to the new organisation, Triangle's sales volume in Europe, soared from 300,000 in 2016, to almost one million tires in 2018. Among the factors involved, the decision to shorten the distance between China and the company’s European customers, able now to communicate directly with Triangle’s European headquarters in Milan, with the export office in Weihai, China, acting as a back office, greatly simplifying relations and flow of goods. Furthermore, the company displays a strong commitment to carefully monitor the supply chain, protecting the retailer, from infiltrations that often disturb the market. But much of the credit goes to the company's determination in renewing its product portfolio and investments in quality. As Corrado Moglia explains, Triangle’s production plants are among the most advanced and automated in the world, so much so that a plant with 500 employees can produce 10 million tires a year, without neglecting to maintain a constant level of quality; moreover, the company is also at the forefront on environmental concerns, in fact, some of its most recent plants allow significant savings of water and energy during the production phase: "These are important elements", explains Moglia, "because, as things stand, China is already enormously different from what it was ten years ago, and we believe that this shift towards quality and sustainability will allow us to overcome many of the doubts and scepticism that still exist towards Chinese products".
The policy adopted by Triangle, looks at making its way in several markets by focusing on a continuous process of development, testing and renewal of the offer; PCR tires, developed by the company's R&D centres in China and the USA, as well as a European technical centre with which Triangle collaborates, are subjected to long testing periods, which continues even after the product has been introduced on the market, thus updating and improving the product over time, especially in terms of compounds, as Wayne Foster, general manager of global marketing, explains: "Triangle performs an ongoing testing programme throughout the entire life cycle of the tires, with the goal of improving performance and market positioning. We carry out tests in Finland and Spain, comparing ourselves with a wide range of competitors. We need to convince the industry that we are a steady and reliable supplier”.
Hence, here are the five new tires introduced in 2019 and offered as “budget” products. In some cases these are range extensions, in others, products created from scratch. We have a HP car product, an HP SUV tire, a 4x4, a UHP and finally an all-season tire. All of them on the market since January with the exception of the all-season, on sale since July.
AdvanteX TC101 is Triangle’s newest effort for the High-Performance segment, which represents the largest share of the car tire market. The manufacturer's objective in developing this tire was to improve the performance of its predecessor in terms of braking distance on dry and wet surfaces and reducing noise levels; for this reason, the updating work focused on the compounds. Advantex TC101 is available in 31 sizes ranging from 15 to 17 inches, with H, V, W and Y speed ratings and aspect ratio between 50 and 65.
AdvanteX SUV is a new SUV-specific product, dedicated to small and medium sized vehicles in this segment. Designed to meet the growing demand in an equally fast-growing market segment in Europe, AdvanteX SUV is available in 31 sizes from 15 to 19 inches, ranging from 235/70R15 to 255/50R19, with aspect ratios from 50 to 70 and speed codes from H to Y. The tread pattern features four longitudinal grooves and an optimised block sequence.
GripX MT TR281
Triangle's new addition to the 4x4 segment is dedicated to off-roaders keen on easy road trips as well as tackling extreme off-road conditions. The tread has a reinforced shoulder block design with wide oblique grooves designed to provide traction even on sandy or muddy terrain; in addition, Triangle reinforced both the shoulders and sidewall to protect the tire from damage. The new GripX MT is available in six sizes from 15 to 17 inches, 65 to 85 aspect ratio and Q speed rating.
SeasonX is the all-season option in the portfolio of a brand that aims to expand into the European market, in fact it is a completely new product designed specifically for Europe by a specialized Finnish company. The construction philosophy behind this product is creating what looks like a summer tire but feels perfectly at ease in winter conditions. The tread pattern has a solid centre area and rigid on the side, designed to optimise handling, while the V-shaped directional pattern has been developed to facilitate water and slush expulsion. The range includes sizes from 14 to 19 inches, with aspect ratios from 35 to 70 and speed ratings from T to W.
SporteX TH 201
Sportex TH201 is the High Performance tire offered to the more sporty drivers. The tread has an asymmetrical design, designed to offer a large footprint on the ground. Suitable for large cars and SUVs, the Sportex TH201 is available in 54 sizes for cars (for 16 to 22 inch wheels, 30 to 55 aspect ratios and V to Y speed ratings) and 9 SUV sizes (18 to 24 inch, 35 to 55 aspect ratio and W to Y speed ratings).
Interview with Roberto Pizzamiglio, Director of South Europe Sales
At the launch event in Portugal, Roberto Pizzamiglio, sales manager for Southern Europe since October 2017, spoke about the creation of the European subsidiary, the brand's market positioning as well as Triangle’s future prospects.
What can we conclude after the first years of activities of Triangle’s subsidiary in Europe?
We are extremely pleased: we have grown beyond our expectations, and as far as 2019 is concerned, we are expecting an additional double-digit growth, somewhere around 30%. The first five months of the year were very encouraging. We are getting a positive response from our customers: Triangle tires are appreciated at all levels throughout the chain, distributors keep buying and selling our tires, and dealers are encouraged by positive feedback from consumers. In addition to car, SUV and light truck tires, Triangle also manufactures truck and earthmoving tires, the brand's traditional core business. We keep growing in the quarry and earth moving sectors, 2017 was better than 2016, in 2018 we consolidated the numbers of the previous year and in 2019 we should be able to grow further.
As far as car tires are concerned, are you thinking of tackling the value segment?
Not really; as we see it, end users are increasingly looking for quality products at a fair price, and the technological gap that perhaps existed in the past has been largely bridged. We don't have a reference competitor, we want Triangle to be competitive for both our distributors and dealers, and to meet the quality expectations of our final clients.
Will you continue to consolidate these five product families even in the next few years?
Yes, we already have a development plan for the next 10 years, in addition to many new products. Among the new launches expected next year we have a new van tire and a new directional winter product, while in 2020 our all-season range will be extended from the current 14 sizes to about 30. Then we will have a new 4x4 AT All-Terrain tire, expected between August and September 2019. In addition, all products will be updated from time to time: in 2021 the SporteX we have tested on the track today, will be 5 years old, so we are already working on its successor.
Yes, we have an ongoing renewal program, however, we will also keep updating the existing products with new compounds. For example, the SporteX now has a different compound compared to when it was launched in 2016, improved thanks to tests being carried out in Europe, particularly in Idiada, Spain.
Are there any strategic plans, in the next 10 years, focused on EVs?
Yes, Triangle is looking very carefully at what is happening in the automotive sector, so we can expect products dedicated to electric cars and hybrids, which have rather specific parameters - very challenging indeed – on rolling resistance, for example.