Chinese tyre tax gives retread industry a boost says Bridgestone
A tax imposed on imported budget Chinese tyres has dramatically reduced the amount of cheap rubber coming into the UK, giving the European retread industry a much-needed boost.
“It’s definitely been good news for retreads, but it hasn’t been quite as positive as we had hoped,” explained Terry Salter, Bridgestone’s truck product manager of Northern Europe. “Unfortunately people have got out of the habit of buying retreads.”
While the Chinese were dumping cheap tyres in Europe, and hauliers changed their buying habits, so 25% of European retread factories were forced to close. But Bridgestone, which owns the Bandag retread brand, stayed committed.
“We firmly believe that it is the right thing, not only from a financial point of view, but for society and the environment too,” declared Salter. "Every truck tyre contains 70kg of steel rubber and oil, and when a tyre is retreaded, most of these materials are used again. It’s time to start re-educating people.".
Bridgestone's fuel efficient Ecopia tyres could save UK hauliers £1000s
Bridgestone says more UK fleets should be switching to low rolling resistance tyres, in order to slash their fuel bills and cut their carbon footprints.
According to Terry Salter, Bridgestone’s truck product manager of Northern Europe, less than 4% of UK fleets currently run some form of fuel-efficient tyre, whereas 15% would see a significant benefit by switching to them.
“The right customer can take 10% off their fuel bill by moving [from regional tyres] to energy efficient tyres,” he said.
Salter was talking at Bridgestone’s Truck World event at its Rome test facility, where some of Europe’s largest hauliers had gathered to hear about the tyre maker’s latest developments.
One of the key messages drummed into participants, was that Bridgestone’s recently launched Ecopia H002 range of steer, drive and trailer tyres aren’t only vastly better than their H001 predeccessor, but are more fuel efficient than rival Michelin’s X-Line Energy range too. Backing up this claim, it gave details of an independent trial which took place in May.
Collaborated with MAN ProfiDrive, three identical MAN-powered artics, each shod with a different set of tyres, drove from Munich to Rome in identical conditions. One was fitted with Bridgestone’s previous generation of regional tyre, a second with Michelin X-Line Energy tyres, and a third with Bridgestone Ecopia H002s.
The fuel consumption was measured, and the one clad with Bridgestone Ecopias was the clear winner.
From these results Bridgestone then concluded that a 40-tonne artic covering 130,000km per annum and running on Ecopia tyres on all axles, would consume €741 less fuel than an identical truck fitted with Michelin X-Line Energy tyres. The saving over the regional tyre would be €4,818.
In order to demonstrate these findings, the hauliers were shown a live demonstration. Three identical MAN TGS artics (running at 30 tonnes) were driven side by side around the test track, and at 30kph all were put into neutral. The distances they coasted were then measured.
First to stop was the truck running on regional tyres (covering 475m), then the Michelin one (623m) and finally the Ecopia (627m).
Salter believes one of the key reasons why UK fleets have so far failed to embrace fuel efficient tyres, is that while fuel economy gains are significant, they aren’t always easy to measure. In contrast, the higher up-front purchase price of energy tyres, and their worse wear characteristics, are easily quantified. ”Now is the time to make the switch to low-rolling resistance tyres,” he said, “so get in touch with Bridgestone to see if they’re suitable for your operation.”