Q&A with Dr. Andreas Limper, a senior manager at HF Mixing Group, for an article on the current state of the EU tire sector in the Sept/Oct issue of ERJ:
Viewpoint: HF executive comments on the EU tire machinery market
AL: We have seen a decreasing demand for new machines twelve months ago. But since about five months the requests show a steep increase. The market for service for mixers is stable and strong. This may be based on the fact, that these machines today have a much higher load than in the past and customers can not afford any longer downtimes. The market for technical rubber goods is increasing strongly. A separate aspect is the automation market. Here we see an above-average growth in the last years. This trend is very stable and strong.
ERJ: How do you expect the European tire market to develop over the next 24 months?
AL: We see strong investments of tire companies in eastern Europe. The labelling still has a strong effect. This means silica compounds are getting higher importance. This will lead to investments into new mixing technologies.
ERJ: What do you see as the main barriers to growth in the market?
AL: As replacement tyres are having a much higher volume as tyres for new cars, the market is quite stable. As the population of cars is increasing steadily, the replacement tyre demand even shows a stable –but small- growth. So the main barrier for the European tyre producers are the slow growth rate of cars in western countries. In eastern Europe there is a higher sensitivity for prices. Here cheap imported tyres are taking quite big market shares.
ERJ: What are the main factors driving growth in the European tire market?
AL: Growth comes from rising customer demands. For example to have separate sets of summer and winter tyres. Also the demand for high performance tyres (silica treads ; use of functionalized polymers etc.) is driving growth.
ERJ: Any other comments on the current business, regulatory or technology trends in the European tire sector?
AL: There is a clear trend for “greener products”. This is not only true for the tires themselves. Also for the production tyre producers are trying to lower the use of raw materials, energy and to work with higher efficiencies.
ERJ: Thank you