Why Pirelli has its sights on U.S. truck and bus fleets
Pirelli is the latest tire manufacturer to join the charge into the North American truck and bus tire market. The company announced late last month it planned to supply the U.S. and Canada through a dedicated new entity called TP Commercial Solutions LLC.
The medium and heavy commercial tire segment is forecast to be the fastest-growing tire segment in the market to 2020, according to a February report from analysts TechSci. Several major tire manufacturers, including Michelin, Armstrong and China’s largest privately held tire manufacturer, Triangle, have announced their plans to supply bus and truck tires into the North American market in recent months.
Truck and bus tires a fast-growing segment
The influx of Chinese truck and bus tires into the U.S. has also been the subject of an investigation by the U.S. International Trade Commission because the tires were allegedly being subsidized and sold at less than fair value. According to the United Steel Workers — the union petitioning against the imports — imports from China have grown from 6.3 million truck and bus tires in 2012 to 8.4 million tires in 2014. That’s an increase of 33 percent. The USW says American truck and bus tire producer shipments have declined by 7.8 percent despite an overall demand for those tires expanding during the 2012-2015 period, while China captured an increased share of apparent consumption of 6.8 percent from 2012-14. Combined, the U.S. and Canada bus and truck tire market is the world’s largest in terms of value.
Pirelli already supplies bus and truck tires and fleet management solutions to the global market, and the latest move represents an aggressive push of the company’s industrial business unit into North America. The pilot phase, currently underway, aims to establish “the best strategy for local product development, distribution and sales.” More than 40 fleets are taking part in the testing and development of Pirelli commercial truck tires for several North American applications.
Clif Armstrong to head up TP Commercial Solutions
Pirelli has selected Clif Armstrong to head up TP Commercial Solutions. Armstrong has more than 20 years of commercial experience including senior roles within Continental Tire’s truck tire division. He will be based in Rome, Georgia, at Pirelli’s North American headquarters.
“Pirelli’s strategy for car and light truck products in North America is focused on premium products customized for the particular needs of the market,” Armstrong said.
“With the launch of the commercial truck business, we plan to do the same thing — adapt the excellent technology and leadership of the Pirelli industrial product line to the specifications and demanding requirements of these markets.
“North American fleets have unique needs which require unique designs, sizes and compounding to deliver the premium performance for which the Pirelli brands are known and respected. Entering this market is no easy task, but with the strength of our future product portfolio, coupled with the extensive research and development we are devoting to the project, we will provide North American fleets best-in=class cost performance and services.”
Pirelli promises high-quality tires for specialized segment
The company says it is already well-regarded globally for its commercial truck tires and fleet management tools. Armstrong said the time was right to enter the North American market.
“This positions us to serve the needs of our stakeholders on a truly global basis,” he said.
Pirelli owns and operates truck tire manufacturing facilities in Brazil, China, Egypt, and Turkey. The company says all technical specifications for its products and production are “tightly controlled to provide the highest-quality products for (original equipment) partners and global fleets.”