The flood of Asian and especially Chinese products has also affected motorization and transport. For several years, a lot of Chinese tyres have been available on the market. This relatively cheap tyre has its fans and opponents who claim that the Far East manufacturers do not have facilities that allow the production of tyres of adequate quality. What’s the truth?
European companies produce in China
The alleopony24 website confidently recommends Chinese tyres. There are dozens of Chinese companies offering truck tyres. Each has a different technological background and experience.
“Chinese tyres vary and cannot be judged as a whole. We can come across good and bad tyres from this country. Importers are keen to keep their customers, because a disappointed customer not only does not come back, but even flees to the competition. This is why the technologies used by Chinese manufacturers are similar to the ones used by renowned manufacturers in case of budget tyres,” claims the website.
It is worth noting that the major tyre manufacturers outsource part of their production to Chinese factories, as happens in virtually every industry: consumer electronics, home furnishings, etc. The manufacturers there are thus relying on the technology of the industry leaders, and the quality of the tyres is not a question of where they are produced, but of following procedures and keeping an eye on the quality of the product. Moreover, in order to sell tyres legally in Europe, they must obtain relevant certificates and type approvals. If a tyre does not meet the standards, it will not be approved for use in Europe and therefore cannot be sold.
But there is one reservation.
“Chinese truck tyres are of a good standard, but they are obviously not premium products. We therefore recommend them for vehicles that cover shorter distances. They also work well on vehicles that are not operated in the harshest road and weather conditions. Truck tyres from China will perform well when used in moderation,” say experts from alleopony24.
According to them, this is a far better solution than retreading truck tyres and opting for second-hand tyres.
“Their internal structure is not worn out. New tyres have greater uniformity than retreaded and used tyres. This will ensure a more comfortable experience when driving. In addition, new tyres come with a guarantee,” say experts from alleopony24.
A similar opinion is held by dealers at 4moto, which offers a wide range of tyre brands.
“Sailun tyres are available on every continent and are manufactured with the highest quality, as evidenced by ISO9001 and TS16949 certification for management and ISO14001 certification for environmental management, health and safety systems. They have a good reputation among users and their quality can be compared to tyres produced by European companies, which belong at least to the budget tyre group,” they explain.
Tireexpert, for its part, encourages the interest in Aeolus tyres, arguing that the manufacturer has been in business since 1965 and that all its tyres comply with European Union directives and guidelines (e.g. ISO 9001 and ISO/TS 16949), which makes them suitable for demanding markets, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Denmark and many other countries worldwide.
More expensive truck tyres are worth more?
The Polish Tyre Industry Association has a slightly different view of the problem, stressing that fleets have a responsible purchasing policy and know that the purchase of tyres is an investment. Although branded tyres are more expensive at the time of purchase, they prove to be more cost-effective than mid-range, budget and especially so-called exotic brands. Tyres from reputable manufacturers feature the highest number of advanced technological solutions that provide the final product with qualities of great importance to carriers, such as fuel efficiency, durability, safety and the possibility of extending the life of the tyre by means of regrooving and retreading.
“Branded tyres – especially premium tyres – use the best technology available within the group to offer the best possible performance across a range of parameters. Tyre parameters are often mutually exclusive – for example, grip or friction reduction, or aquaplaning resistance and rolling noise – so it is very difficult to combine many qualities in one tyre model. This requires large investments in developing and discovering new technologies – hundreds of millions of euros are spent every year in this field,” says Piotr Sarnecki, general director of the Polish Tyre Industry Association.
Mid-range brands offer fewer of these technologies, and their performance is good across only certain parameters.
“The cheapest budget tyres use only basic technology, so they do not offer qualities such as short braking distances, durability or energy efficiency. Then there are the sub-budget class of tyres, the so-called exotic brands, whose only advantage is their low price. However, they often do not have even a basic repeatability of quality and some layers are missing, so they wear out much faster and their carcasses are much weaker. It is not possible to produce a durable carcass and an energy-efficient tread with cheap production methods. Such tyres cannot be safely retreaded, they can only be recycled, and in the end they generate more costs for companies than branded tyres,” points out Piotr Sarnecki.
He adds that only premium tyres have a strong enough carcass to be retreaded. This way of extending tyre life is responsible from a business and environmental point of view, and directly translates into savings for logistics operators.
The use of branded tyres with reduced rolling resistance (almost 30% of fuel is used to overcome rolling resistance) in trucks saves more than 2 litres of fuel per 100 km, i. e. almost 5,000 litres per year on average. In addition, with proper maintenance, these tyres can last for as long as 600,000-800,000 km.
Other Asian producers will fill the gap left by the Chinese
The dispute over whether Chinese tyres are worth using is still ongoing. What we do know is that, a few years after imposing tariffs on tyres from China, the United States Department of Commerce decided that this was a perfectly reasonable move. The removal of these tariffs would likely lead to tyre dumping on the US market and renewed subsidisation by the Chinese government. As a result, both anti-dumping and countervailing duties are set to continue (since the introduction of the tariffs in the US, tyre imports have fallen by more than 90%).
Other Asian manufacturers are proving that the market abhors a vacuum.
Indeed, anti-dumping duties imposed by Europe and the US on Chinese tyre makers have opened a window of export opportunities for the Indian tyre industry as weakening demand at home has boosted sales,” explains Anant Goenka, managing director of CEAT.
This only confirms the opinion presented some time ago by Fazilet Cinaralp, Secretary General of ETRMA (European Tyre and Rubber Manufacturers Association). Cinaralp said that due to the anti-dumping duties imposed on Chinese exporters of truck tyres, Chinese products have been at least partially replaced by tyres from other countries, especially from the Southeast Asian and Korean regions.
Photo credit @ Bartosz Wawryszuk