Europe 2014: Optimism, uncertainty
We are now into the early stages of 2014 and there no reason not to expect more of what the European tyre scene witnessed in 2013 – a fair mixture of optimism and uncertainty. It is also likely that this is the year when the Euro’s immediate future will become more clear.
Without a doubt the most important development has to be the conclusion of the long running sage concerning the attempted merger between Cooper Tire and Apollo Tyres. The somewhat predictable end came at the end of December when Cooper Tires announced the cancellation of the agreement citing financial discrepancies between the two parties.
It has also been a period of celebration for Pirelli as the Milan based manufacturer launches its special 50th Anniversary Calendar for 2014 which was unveiled last month amidst both speculation and controversy. This very latest edition will see Pirelli effectively turn the clock back as it is a ultra special nostalgic black and white calendar from 1986 which is viewed as a tribute the late photographer Helmut Newton. The calendar was never published due to a commissioning error so it has now been released to respect Helmut’s love of vitality and vibrant eroticism.
Another important event has been the Agritechnica Show in Germany with both Michelin and Czech Republic manufacture Mitas launching new innovative agricultural tyres. Michelin showcased their all-new Concept Agri pattern which they consider may well have taken agricultural tyre tread design to the next level. The tyre will become available in the market in due course. Also making it debut at the show was Michelin’s new SprayBib VF420/95R50 pattern which provides a range of popular sizes including one that is unique to the crop conditioning segment. The tyre has a 95 per cent aspect ratio which enhances safety and stability when operating sprayers and other crop conditioning machinery.
Over on the Mitas stand the VF HC 1000 ‘Very High Flexion’ (VF) tyre for sprayer applications was introduced and is now available in size 380/90RR46 173D. Mitas also announced that its new production facility in Otrokovice in the Czech Republic is now operating at its full capacity of 42,000 tonnes per year which manufactures both Mitas and Continental branded agri radial tyres. Continental intends to invest Euros 165 million over the next five years at the plant which will effectively double its radial truck and bus production capacity to almost 1,5 million units a year.
Elsewhere in Europe Swedish based Trelleborg has recently been awarded the ‘Silver Ears Innovation Award’ for 2013 for its progressive traction technology which has been initially incorporated into their 650/65R38 agricultural pattern. The new innovative technology has given the tyre’s tread a completely new appearance which includes a special double lug that operates on soil at different times and progressively releases higher traction when required.
European based Magna Tyres Group has announced a new partnership with Belgian based Terex Port Solutions which has resulted in the Magna MB300 being fitted as OE to Terex’s GHMK 6407B Harbour Cranes along with other models in size 14.00-24. Terex cranes are reputed to be the most widely used port cranes in the world.
Meanwhile Bridgestone Europe has announced the expansion of their V-Steel N-Traction (VSNT) Off Road tyre range with the recent launch of a four star rated version – the VSNT 4 in size 35/65R33. This new pattern has been specially manufactured for the latest ultra heavy trucks carrying out underground haulage operations.
By John Stone