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Tired of poor societal standing, or is it time to roll Tyre education out?

Tired of poor societal standing, or is it time to roll Tyre education out?

By Adam Gosling, Tyre Safe, Australia:

Most commercial aircraft tyres have multiple tread lives, in simple terms they are retreaded not just once, not just twice but quite often more than three times. The travelling public does not consider not to board a plane because it has retreaded tyres fitted yet would never consider putting retreads on their own vehicles

As an industry we’ve done ourselves no favours. Yes, a big statement to make, so ask any of your clients do they enjoy buying the items that serve them tirelessly and keep them safe? Most, if honest, will answer that tyres are a grudge buy, everyone bitches about having to replace their tyres again even though they’re given them years of faithful service, kept them safe and comfortable tyres are still a grudge purchase. Why?
We’ve failed over the years to educate the motoring public about the benefits that tyres give us, how they keep us safe whilst providing a comfortable ride, even a plush ride when considering the modern radial tyre. Now, the purchasing is done mainly on price, what’s the lowest price you can give us? Quality is rarely entertained, except for those who demand performance from their tyres such as racing aficionados or drivers of performance cars that appreciate high quality products. For the main people just want cheap, so we as an industry have not been successful in educating our end users as to why a quality tyre is worth buying.

Promoting benefits

Auto manufacturers promote their vehicles with safety features prominent, additions that make a driver’s life easier, they understand that functionality partners with form. What does a daily commuter care about the tread pattern on their tyres? Why not? The tyre industry has not bothered to promote the benefits. In considering vehicle emissions have we, the tyre industry, promoted using our tyres at the appropriate inflation pressures? The TNO organisation from Europe detailed such savings in their report (TNO 2013 R10986 search on this!) detailing payback times of less than 2 years, and that’s considering oil at $100 / barrel and with no catastrophic tyre failures.
Remember pushing your bicycle home because it had a flat tyre? Yes, it was hard work because the rolling resistance of the tyre had increased exponentially. So if there is a single tyre that is down on pressure on our vehicle would you notice the increased fuel consumption? Probably not because of the vagaries of city driving. For a fleet of vehicles be they taxis or trucks a reduction of 1 – 2% in annual fuel burn equates to large numbers, so why are tyre manufacturers and retailers so afraid to educate the general public?
Having just attended a global retread conference (ARC 2018) and had confirmed my prior knowledge of the environmental advantages of using retreads over single use low price tyres I’m wondering why we, the tyre industry, have not publicised this aspect, show that we are environmentally aware, that we care about the costs of operating our modern motor vehicles.
Some tyre manufacturers demonstrate their social responsibilities by showing that there is the equivalent of just 4 hand prints supporting our cars, that the tread design of the tyre is critical to the performance of our tyres. These aspects are supported by engineering, large research and development budgets. The rise of the budget product has been to the detriment of quality of our industry, there’s no argument about this. Any product produced on a low budget will not perform as well as a soundly research and designed product.
The push to have minimum tread depths increased from 1.6 mm to 3 mm is evidence of this. A tyre tread pattern should perform at a similar level for its entire tread life, not just at the start. How many of the general public know why we have tyres with a tread pattern? Anyone with any knowledge of racing will understand that a slick tyre, i.e. one with no tread pattern will yield far superior levels of traction that a treaded tyre, in dry conditions. When wet pavement is encountered with a slick tyre you may as well be driving on ice. Like all aspects of tyre performance, the designer has to account for the worst conditions. Inflation pressure is exactly the same, it has to consider the maximum load the tyre will experience as well as the maximum speed, the worst the tyre will see.
I ask the question again, have we as an industry actually educated our end users in why our products are important to them, how they can save money, how they can keep them safe?

Wrong perception

The general consideration of retreaded tyres is not very good, yet millions of people use retreaded tyre every day, in high speed high load applications. Most commercial aircraft tyres have multiple tread lives, in simple terms they are retreaded not just once, not just twice but quite often more than three times. The travelling public does not consider not to board a plane because it has retreaded tyres fitted yet would never consider putting retreads on their own vehicles. Why? Because we’ve not bothered to educate them as to why our tyres are worthy of purchasing, of why our products will provide superior service and sound economics.
How do we as an industry face up to this situation and roll into a single cohesive package, just as we sell our tyres, to promote tyres and the role the humble servant we know as a tyre plays in our societies around the globe?
If I had the answer to this question I’d not be writing this article, I’d be celebrating that we are an industry that shows leadership and fulfils our societal obligations.
I do call upon the various tyre associations representing the retreading industry, the new tyre retailers, the tyre manufacturers, the motoring associations representing drivers, the insurance companies who foot the bill for tyre related road accidents to all consider how to educate the end users in the critical role that tyres play in our world. Without the humble tyre we’d be in an immobile world where safety and comfort would be nowhere near what we enjoy these days.
We have a lot to thank Mr Goodyear and Mr Dunlop for but why aren’t we out there telling people?
It’s no longer necessary that tyres are a grudge purchase, why is a tyre any different to a cell phone?

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