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NEWSLETTER stocking the tyres in question are listed, together with addresses, phone numbers and website address. A separate news section enables users to keep up-to-date with the latest happenings in the tyre industry worldwide, as well as news specifically concerning TWG members. TWG members currently supply more than 70% of the UK replacement tyre market and, increasingly, tyre retailers are demanding shorter delivery times. The new website gives customers instant access to information on its suppliers and should make the delivery process even more speedy and efficient.

The NTDA Tyre Wholesalers Group


The Tyre Wholesalers Group (TWG) is the wholesale section of the National Tyre Distributors Association – the trade association for UK tyre dealers and fast-fits – and the name says it all. There are 24 national and regional members of the TWG and it is estimated that we supply around 75% of the car tyres sold on the UK replacement market – that’s nearly 26 million tyres a year, with a value of £900,000,000. To be successful, the wholesaler has to deliver what the customer wants, when he wants it, but the TWG members do far more than merely deliver product; they pass on information on forthcoming legislation about tyres and are available to offer customers help and advice. Indeed, the purpose of this newsletter is to keep TWG customers informed about issues that will have an effect on the way that you do business – all part of the service! National Tyre Distributors Association, 8 Temple Square, Aylesbury, Bucks. HP20 2QH Tel: 08449 670707 Fax: 01296 488675 Email: Website:

Supplied by TWG Member:

NEWSLETTER Remember Last Winter?

In the UK, the winter of 2010 turned out to be the worst winter for 30 years, with thousands of people snowed in for days at a time during the worst of the weather. Predictably, transport was thrown into chaos and roads became increasingly treacherous in the freezing conditions. A number of organisations have tried to quantify the scale of the problem, with Continental Tyre Group saying that more than three million motorists had an accident during the 2010 winter and 45% of those questioned in the company’s survey said that they had had two or more ‘near misses’. Another survey of more than 2,000 drivers, carried out by Kwik-Fit, suggests that over 70% or drivers were affected by the weather, with one in three skidding on wet and icy roads. 40% of drivers had to postpone a trip, while one in six drivers had to abandon their vehicles, the survey showed. The road safety organisation TyreSafe canvassed 1,500 motorists regarding winter driving and 54% admitted that they felt ‘less safe’ when driving in the winter. 45% of drivers said that their biggest fear was the increased likelihood of an accident because the roads felt more slippery. Indeed, almost half of all accident claims are made in the winter months. Despite these misgivings, 18% of drivers said that they made no specific preparations to their car,

while 49% checked their tyre tread depths and 60% checked and topped up their antifreeze levels. Given that so many motorists are worried about safety and loss of grip, is there anything that can be done to improve the situation? The answer is ‘yes’ and it is very simple; fitting cold weather tyres can vastly improve grip, traction and stopping distances, so it is perhaps surprising that only 3% of TyreSafe’s respondents said that they changed their rubber when winter approached. Then again, perhaps it is not quite so surprising when you realise that there is not a single mention of cold weather tyres in the Highway Code.

How Cold Weather Tyres Work Cold weather tyres have never been a big sector of the UK tyre market and it has taken something like last winter to rekindle debate on the subject. In parts of the UK – notably Scotland and Northern England – they are a fact of life and many motorists routinely change their tyres. Elsewhere, however, the attitude

Winter 2010


is along the lines of “we don’t get bad weather here very often, so it’s not worth doing”. This attitude is reinforced by the fact that the tyres are frequently referred to as ‘winter tyres’ and many carry the ‘M+S’ mark (for ‘mud and snow’) on the



sidewall. Severe winters and heavy snowfalls are rare in most of England, so we don’t need special tyres, do we? This is a misapprehension and it is no accident that in these articles, we refer to ‘cold weather’ rather than ‘winter’ tyres, as these tyres are designed to perform better when the temperature drops, regardless of whether there is snow or ice about. This improved performance is down to special compounds and tread patterns, with extra sipes for more gripping edges. Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, explains: “The performance of cold weather tyres is notably better when temperatures fall below 7°C. In these conditions ‘standard’ tyres begin to harden and lose their ability to grip the road properly, while cold weather tyres contain more natural rubber and advanced silica compounds to reduce the hardening process and improve grip.” Just how much improvement there is is described elsewhere in this bulletin.


for London, remember; further north, temperatures will be lower.

fitment of conventional tyres is found to be directly attributable to the occurrence of any fault or defect.”

If further evidence is needed as to the effectiveness of cold weather tyres, consider the following from the Continental website ( concerning the ‘to switch or not to switch’ question: “[Cold weather tyres] do not stop as quickly in the dry as a summer tyre. On balance, if it’s not possible to switch, you are better off with winter tyres all year round, because the difference in stopping distances of summer tyres in winter is far greater than for cold weather tyres in the summer.”

Road safety organisation TyreSafe also cautions against making the switch, saying that changing the vehicle’s handling could increase the chances of being involved in an accident.

Fitting cold weather tyres can add greatly to motorist’s safety and feeling of security. After all, you wouldn’t go out in the winter wearing sandals, so why do you expect your car to?



So it is a myth that there needs to be snow and ice before the benefits of cold weather tyres kick in and the 7°C benchmark is recognised by all tyre manufacturers. To put this in perspective, below are the average minimum temperatures for London, in degrees Celsius.









2 2 3 6 8 12 14 13 11 8 5 4

From this we see that, for half the year, temperatures favour cold weather tyres – and these figures are





sidewalls and are perceived to give a harder ride and, for some drivers, this outweighs the undoubted safety advantages of the product.

What does the tyre industry think? Most tyre manufacturers recommend replacing runflats like for like (including not mixing runflat brands) and all agree that you should never mix runflat and conventional tyres on a vehicle.






Runflat deflated




Non runflat deflated

On a practical level, the whole point of fitting runflats as OE is to save space and weight by dispensing with the spare tyre, so if you replace the runflats with conventional tyres and suffer a sudden blowout, what do you do? Message board comments vary from “carry a can of sealant” to “put a spare tyre in the boot”. Always assuming there’s room, of course.



January February March April May June July August September October November December








The Cold Weather Tyre laws across Europe... Untitled-1 1

04-10-2010 13:41:33

Red = winter tyres required Green = no legal requirement Orange = required if indicated by road sign

How about vehicle manufacturers? One company which has fitted runflats extensively as OE is BMW and they definitely do not recommend replacing runflats with conventional tyres, saying that their vehicles “have their suspension and braking components set up to accommodate runflat tyres. Should you decide to change to non-runflats, it may alter the driving and handling characteristics.” BMW admits that making such a switch is possible and that it would not invalidate the warranty “although a claim might be rejected where the

By far the most powerful argument against replacing runflats with conventional tyres is on the grounds of safety – not only because the runflat capability is removed, but there are other factors involved too. Motoring magazine Auto Express compared runflats and non-runflats on a BMW 320i and found that, with conventional tyres, the car took an extra 3.5 metres to come to a halt in the wet and the dry stopping distance was longer to. If the customer insists on replacing his runflats, there is no legal reason why he shouldn’t do so, although there is a large body of opinion advising against it. Our enquiries have not revealed either that there would be any problems with the insurance companies, but if the motorist does decide to replace his runflats with conventional tyres, it would be prudent to let his insurance company know, just in case.

Wholesalers Feature On New Website The National Tyre Distributors Association has recently restyled and updated its website, as part of the Association’s intention to maintain the site as one of the key portals for the UK tyre industry. In addition to details and locations of member companies and access to the NTDA’s technical publications, the site includes a dedicated section for the Tyre Wholesalers Group. This includes an easyto-use search facility by which retailers can identify which wholesaler best suits their tyre requirements. Searches can be made by geographical area, tyre brand or type of tyre, from cycle through car, truck, agricultural to large earthmover tyres. All companies



Building The Market Fitting cold weather tyres is second nature to many of our continental brethren, but how can we do it in the UK? Fortunately, we have a readymade example almost on our doorstep, as The Netherlands attempted to create a cold weather market. The climate in The Netherlands is not wildly different from that of the UK and presumably the mindset of the motorists was similar. In 1996, the Dutch tyre trade association VACO (equivalent to the NTDA here in the UK) began promoting cold weather tyres, majoring on the road safety aspect in intensive promotional campaigns. Below are the figures for sales of cold weather tyres in The Netherlands: 2004/5 2005/6 2006/7 2007/8 2008/9 2009/10

350,000 tyres 450,000 tyres 800,000 tyres* 650,000 tyres 700,000 tyres 1,200,000 tyres

*the spike in 2006/7 was due to the introduction of an obligation in parts of neighbouring Germany to fit cold weather tyres.

In 2007/8 VACO began a new promotional campaign called ‘De Bandenwisselweken’ (‘Tyre Changing Weeks’) with its own website. The campaign is financed by all sectors of the tyre industry; manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers and has aroused a lot of media attention. One interesting point is that, at the moment, insurance companies in The Netherlands are investigating the possibility of offering discounts to those motorists who fit cold weather tyres. Back in 1996, the Dutch cold weather tyre market was minimal, but now, says VACO, 25% of the 7.7 million cars in The Netherlands are fitted with cold weather tyres.

Another Car Manufacturer Supports Cold Weather Tyre Fitment By fitting winter tyres to their vehicle, Suzuki owners can increase safety just when they need it most according to a statement issued by the Company earlier this month. Michael-Le Flay, Suzuki Aftersales Marketing Manager, explained: “Many people are unaware of the fact that when temperatures drop below 7°C, the rubber in standard tyres becomes harder and less flexible, which affects braking and cornering performance. “It doesn’t matter how many electronic aids your car may have, the quality of its tyres is critical. The compound used for winter tyres, and their tread design are tailored to cope with adverse conditions, so that the best levels of car control can be maintained. The result is a significant improvement in braking performance of up to 25 per cent as well as better grip.”

Replacing Runflats With Conventional Tyres Judging from the queries received at NTDA Head Office, tyre dealers are experiencing a growing number of requests from motorists who want to replace their OE-fitted runflat tyres with conventional rubber. The reasons given vary from dissatisfaction about the ride quality to concerns about the higher price of replacement runflats, plus there is the uncertainty (as examined in our previous TWG Newsletter) as to whether or not runflats can be repaired. On the ride quality question, runflats have stiffer

NEWSLETTER How Good Are They? In the past, cold weather tyres had a – not entirely undeserved – reputation for being chunky and noisy, plus you had to reduce your speed. But no longer – today’s products are significantly quieter and some are available in H, V and W speed ratings. The argument in favour of cold weather tyres rests on the safety factor and whether they can dispel motorists’ worries about loss of grip and not being able to stop quickly, so how good are they? Tyre manufacturers test their products extensively and there is a lot of information available on the subject. As an example, Continental’s website ( shows the result of braking tests in various conditions. The first of these was at 50 km/ hr on snow and the cold weather tyre stopped an impressive 8m quicker than a summer tyre. Test number two, held on ice, was even more significant; braking at 30 km/hr, the cold weather tyre brought the car to rest a mammoth 11m sooner than a summer tyre. Away from snow and ice, the British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association carried out a braking test on a wet road at 60 mph with the temperature at 5°C. The cold weather tyre stopped 5m shorter than its summer equivalent. To put these figures in perspective, 5m is more than one car’s length.

Independent Evidence In October 2010, the leading motoring magazine Auto Express carried out its own exhaustive tests on various cold weather tyres and compared their performance against each other and against summer and all-season tyres. The magazine’s special, eight-page report should convince even the most hardened sceptic of the wisdom of fitting cold weather rubber. Some of the highlights included a snow braking test from 25 mph. And the result? As Auto Express


put it: “The summer tyre most of us will be using this winter stopped six car lengths further than our winner.” Indeed, the summer tyre was still moving at 20 mph when the leading cold weather tyre had come to rest. There were similar results in the snow traction tests, where the worst-performing cold weather tyre was rated at 93.7 out of a hundred, compared with 89.1 for the all-season tyre and 35.9 for the summer product. A comparison of wet braking showed that, above 7°C, the summer tyre stopped soonest from 50 mph. However, at 3°C, the cold weather tyre’s stopping distance actually improved, while the summer tyre took 6m further to stop. Finally, bearing in mind the fears expressed by motorists earlier in this bulletin regarding slippery roads and loss of grip, Auto Express carried out a test on cornering grip on a frozen lake in Sweden and the summer tyre generated only 40% of the grip of the cold weather tyre. As the article pointed out: “UK roads would be a lot safer if we all had double the cornering grip in snow.”

A Practical Example For those who prefer a more down-to-earth example, there is the case of one wholesaler who last winter decided to equip their entire delivery fleet with cold weather tyres. The result was surprising, as during the worst of the weather, their vehicles kept going, delivering tyres to customers. They commented that their drivers reported a greatly increased feeling of security and, while the number of accidents across the country soared during the worst of the weather their records showed that, measured by the number of accidents per 100,000 miles, January and February 2010 were two of the lowest months of the year.



NEWSLETTER spare set can be stored either at the local dealer’s or at Volvo’s Tyre Hotel and changed every six months for a twice-yearly charge of £85.

What’s In It For The Retailer?

BMW is offering cold weather tyre and wheel packages (starting at £600 for a BMW 1 or 3) and, as well as the safety benefits, BMW says that fitting these tyre and wheels can result in up to 40% better wear characteristics than summer tyres when the temperature drops below 7°C. Or to put it simply, cold weather tyres will last longer in the cold weather.

As said earlier, the cold weather tyre sector in the UK is small, but it is growing. Ashley Croft, Chairman of the TWG, says that awareness is on the increase, among both tyre retailers and the motoring public, but there is still a massive job to be done in terms of education.

Kwik-Fit is keen to promote this concept to its fleet customers too and it seems to be working – British Gas recently signed a new solus tyre supply contract, under which its 200 vans would be fitted with cold weather tyres, ensuring the company can attend emergency call-outs in bad weather.

Leading retailer Kwik-Fit said recently that it was launching a campaign “to educate UK drivers on the benefits of cold weather tyres.” As part of this campaign, the company is introducing a “tyre hotel” initiative, which involves storing customers’ summer tyres over the winter, switching the tyres when the weather gets warmer and storing the cold weather tyres until needed again. This idea is popular in parts of mainland Europe, where the customer sometimes has a set of cheaper, steel wheels for his cold weather tyres, saving his precious alloys for the better, summer weather.

Elsewhere, ATS Euromaster placed advance orders for over £3 million worth of cold weather tyres, saying that it already had commitments from customers to fit 9,000 such tyres and that talks with fleets were still in the early stages. ATS Euromaster too will offer the “tyre hotel” facility and says that the advance order will allow at least 30,000 vehicles to be fitted with cold weather tyres. Car manufacturers too are getting in on the act, with Volvo launching a programme whereby customers can buy a set of wheels and cold weather tyres. The

The harsh winter earlier this year prompted a report to review the UK’s ‘infrastructural resilience’ during winter. Consultations were carried out with 132 private and public sector organisations, one of which was the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The SMMT recommended that motorists use cold weather tyres to improve road safety. Chief executive Paul Everitt said: “[These tyres] ensure that the driver gets maximum traction on and off road, thereby ensuring that safety and stability are optimised.” And his sentiments were echoed by RoadSafe’s director Adrian Walsh, who called for wider implementation of cold weather tyres. So, awareness seems to be growing among some retailers, car and van fleet operators, car manufacturers and, with the advent of articles such as Auto Express’s, at least some of the public. What is the advantage for the tyre retailer? First and foremost, if he offers a tyre hotel facility, he will see his customers at least twice a year when the tyres are changed. Whether or not to charge for storage is an individual decision and the provision of storage is dependent on available space. Make no mistake, motorists will not suddenly turn up in droves, demanding cold weather tyres, but the well-informed retailer will at least be able to answer their questions and put their minds at rest. A common suspicion is that the retailer is somehow


making them buy twice as many tyres as they need and, indeed, it is true that fitting cold weather rubber will involve buying a new set of tyres. However, both cold weather and summer tyres will only be used for six months, so will last twice as long – perhaps more, if you adopt the BMW position. Another argument in favour of cold weather tyres applies to those who drive to mainland Europe, where cold weather tyres are mandatory in many countries and strongly recommended in others. Indeed, Germany has just announced that it is to make such tyres required fitment in the winter months so, if venturing abroad at this time, better safe than sorry. Are there any downsides? Earlier we mentioned space restrictions for those offering the tyre hotel, and there is also the issue of supply difficulties – should sales increase dramatically, stock may be hard to come by.

TWG Newsletter November  
TWG Newsletter November  

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