Guangzhou, China – Larger tires, calling for better rolling resistance and energy efficiency, will likely adds to the demand for halobutyl rubber with higher air retention performance.
“Over the past ten years we’ve seen one-inch growth of average [passenger car tire] size for all the regions,” Jeffrey Valentage, global tire market development manager of ExxonMobil Chemical’s butyl business at the 2017 China Rubber Conference held in Guangzhou last week.
U.S. leads this trend with about 16.5-inch average in 2016, and China is quickly catching up with the global average at 15 inches due to popularity of SUVs and larger vehicles. All regions are expected to maintain such growth rate until 2025.
The emerging new energy vehicles, with taller and narrower tires, are particularly susceptible to energy efficiency, added Valentage.
Driven by growing population and increasing living standards, global vehicle production will rise from 95 million last year to 120 million. According to Valentage, this translates into an increase in global halobutyl demand of nearly 500,000 tonnes from now to 2025, 55% of which consumed by light vehicles. China represents 130,000 tonnes halobutyle demand increase, or a 5.8% growth year over year.
Valentage also pointed out that China lags behind in air retention quality with a 2.8% average monthly inflation pressure loss rate, higher than US’ 2.2% and EU’s 2.4%. Over time a higher loss rate would considerably change the in-use rolling resistance coefficient.
“While China is in the process of establishing its own tire regulations, there is an opportunity to adopt inflation pressure loss rate maximums,” said Valentage. “This would significantly improve the long-term effectiveness of any labelling regulations.”