Brussels - The tire industry is set to benefit from consumer trends in the automotive market towards the purchase of “robust lifestyle” vehicles, believes Tom De Vleesschauwer, director automotive long-term planning & sustainability at IHS Automotive.
“The global consumer seems hungry for CUV/SUV vehicles; with a strong desire for these vehicles following years of economic crisis,” De Vleesschauwer said at ERJ’s recent Future Tire 2014 conference in Brussels.
As part of this trend, car buyers have now started to associate larger-diameter wheels and tires with higher quality products.
“This is a very interesting development, because it effectively means that if [a car maker] now wants to launch a small cross over vehicle like a Fiat 500, they have an opportunity to add a larger diameter tire to beef up the product,” the IHS analyst said.
But the trend to adopt larger-diameter tires might not as straightforward as tire manufacturers might wish.
At recent car shows in Asia, De Vleesschauwer said he spotted a trend whereby vehicle companies were creating the illusion that there was a larger tire on the car by playing with design aspects of the vehicle.
“At one of the Chinese vehicle shows what looked like a car with imposing slightly rougher looking tires, was actually that the tire rim and the rim of the wheel had grown larger,” the industry expert reported.