WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH…
The Austrian brand, part of the Continental group, reinforces its presence on the heavy duty transport market. Quality and strength
"Semperit" (from Latin “it always runs”). Thus the Austrian tire manufacturer was named back in 1906, to become part of the Continental group in 1985. More recently, though, the Austrian brand embarked on a project that will provide fresh momentum to the company, especially in the heavy transport tire market. This is happening, as pointed out by EMEA Marketing Director Daniel Gainza, at a time of major changes for the market. First, in Italy, the estimated average life of tires fell by 7%, meaning that, given the same number of kilometers, more tire changes are needed compared to10 years ago. Other EU countries are showing roughly the same figures. Among the reasons, for example, the choice of tires with a more attractive price but an inferior quality, often driven to the limit thus excluding the possibility of being retreaded. A second important aspect relates to the massive import growth from Far East countries, especially China. Last year, EU countries imported 3.844 million tires; while Russia (a rather different market, with a significant proportion of cross-ply non-radial tires) raised trade barriers against Chinese tires and other countries may soon follow suit.
The market’s upturn
The European market recorded an encouraging 4% increase in the replacement market and soared by 10% on the OE market in 2015, a sign that the truck market has finally experienced an upturn after years with a minus sign. Italy and Spain are leading the way recording the highest growth rates; in our country a + 18% was recorded in January, over the same month of 2015, while in February the increase was 8%. The difference between the two months is partly explained by stock replenishments, an operation that is usually performed at the beginning of the year. The supply, due to the globalization of the market, has grown dramatically and comparing the options requires a much more thorough analysis than in the past. The difference between premium and low-cost brands is quite remarkable, especially in terms of performance, particularly regarding rolling resistance, which affects about 30% of the fuel consumption of a vehicle.
A greater awareness
In this climate, Continental is manifesting its interest in a segment of the market that the management defines as mass-premium: tires with different characteristics from premium products, but with similar quality and performances in terms of durability. Customers are rather sensitive to saving, but are not willing to compromise on quality: they are very aware of the retreading potential of the tires (not always possible with low-cost products), warranty and ease of purchase (delivery, proximity to the supply network, clear catalogues and price lists.) This is the main Semperit target market; different from Continental’s but without compromising on quality and durability, so much so that the Runner D2 model has been nominated for the Red Dot Award, the prestigious German design award. Among its main characteristics: strength, performance, a solid and reliable reputation; thanks mainly to the brand’s history as well as the large group that is backs it.
Built to last
"The new forerunner", is the slogan used for the company’s return in the heavy transport sector, which does not only loosely recall the original Latin spirit of the brand, but emphasizes how the new range was planned for the most strenuous work: its missions are, regional transport, building sites, off-road and winter use, covering all possible applications on every axle: steering, drive axle and trailer. Several sets of the new Athlet Front (steering) and Athlet Drive (drive axle) tires have been at work for several months now on trucks used to transport marble blocks from the quarries of Carrara. These 8x8 slide tilt trays, crane and winch trucks load large blocks using their tilt trays and winches with spectacular maneuvers. Moving under the exceptional transport system with a licensed capacity of 40 tons, the equivalent of the total mass of a 4 axle vehicle. In addition to the weight and its sudden changes especially when a block of marble is lifted and loaded, these huge vehicles have to cope every day with a very aggressive road surface made up of sharp stones able to cut tires to shreds; a mileage of 25 thousand kilometers must be considered an excellent result. It might be too early to pass on a definitive judgment, but as far as performance, these tires have been up to the task, thanks mainly to their high grip and shear strength in critical conditions, and judged very positively by the “Carrarini” transporters.
23 models make up Samperit’s full industrial tire range. The steering axle can be equipped with regional Runner F2, Euro-Front, M249, M249, M349, M350, M434, the winter M440, the off-road M235 and the AthletFront designed for building sites with two different patterns. The drive axles can be equipped with regional Runner D2, Euro-Drive, M255, M470, the winter M431 as well as the Athlet Drive specific for site work. Trailers and semi-trailers can use the Runner T2, the Euro-Trailer, M222, M223, M422 M423 (all for regional transport) and the winter M277. Diameters go from 15” (7,50 and 8,50 R15) to 17,5” (8,5, 205/75, 215/75, 225/75, 235/75, 245/70, 205/65 R17,5), 19,5” (245/70, 265/70, 285/70 R19,5), 20” (14,00 and 365/80 R20), 22,5” (295/80, 315/80 and 275/70 R22,5). For this last size, the catalogue further provides an 11, 12 and 13 R22,5, particularly popular in the Italian market.
The new Runner: when distances get longer…
Topping up the range, Semperit introduced the new Runner. Ideal between regional and long distance transport, the three models F2, D2 and T2 are specifically designed for the steering, drive and trailer axles respectively. They all have new tread designs with an optimized land/sea ratio, new compounds designed for fuel savings and winter M + S markings, sipes taking up 2/3 of the tread. The energy label placed the F2 in class C and the D2 in class D, while wet grip puts the F2 in class B and the D2 in class C (for the T2 the class is yet to be determined).
A new management to cope with the changes
To predict changes in the market and be closer to the customer in choosing the appropriate product, Continental CVT Italia has introduced a new figure: the Brand development manager. Ready to detect any signal coming from the market, develop new offers and enhance Continental products; currently the focus is on the mass-premium segment. The new position will be filled by Paolo Giorgetti, 32, a graduate in political science and in Continental since 2011, where he was sales manager for Tuscany and Umbria.