A deeper look at offshore brands and retreading practices

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In my last blog I argued that the greatest threat to retreading comes from cheap offshore tires. Our research this year found that 18% of fleet managers and owner/operators are experimenting with the new offshore brands (products such as Double Coin, Triangle, Woosung, Double Diamond and Aeolus). But 71% of fleet managers and 79% of owner/operators that are using offshore tires also said they are not bothering to retread them.
With this blog I wanted to dig a little deeper to see if attitudes towards offshore tires are changing and if there are differences in those changes among fleet managers and owner/operators.
Now, those who have heard me speak about industry research and statistics, know that I am purposely conservative in my observations and prefer to err on the side of caution. I always point out that a change over one year does not make a trend – I would need to see the same pattern repeated over three years or more before I can call it a trend with confidence.
The information I am about to present here falls under that category. I’ve seen interesting changes in the numbers in this year’s research compared to last year’s when we also tackled the offshore tire issue. It’s too early to call these changes a trend; but they certainly bear watching.
The first interesting change I saw in the numbers was in the general perception among owner/operators when it came to the quality of offshore tires. Although owner/operators scored no offshore brand higher than a 2 out of 5 on the quality perception scale, they did give four out of the five major offshore brands included in our survey higher marks for quality than in last year’s survey. Conversely, fleet managers scored each offshore brand lower this year than last year. And no offshore brand was scored higher than a 2 out of 5 among fleet mangers
In keeping with their improved perception of offshore tires, I also found that the percentage of owner/operators using offshore tires almost doubled this year compared to last year’s survey – from 10% last year to 18% this year. In comparison, fleet use has remained steady at around 18%.
I found the same pattern when owner/operators were asked if they would replace their brand name tires with offshore tires. The percentage of owner/operators willing to do so has more than doubled since last year’s survey, climbing from 7% to 18% this year. The fleet managers’ willingness to do likewise actually declined slightly – down to 10% this year from 12% the previous year.
Now, remember that 79% of owner/operators are not retreading the offshore tires they use. When asked if they would be willing to replace their tires with offshore tires instead of retreading their brand name casings, we saw the same trend among owner/operators. The percentage willing to do so almost doubled this year compared to last. While 11% of owner/operators last year were willing to forgo retreading their brand name casings in favor of buying offshore brands, that percentage was up to 20% with this year’s survey. And again, that change was not mirrored on the fleet side where the percentage of fleet managers willing to undertake such a strategy has remained basically the same at around 15%.
If these numbers continue in the same direction over the next couple of years, it will be obvious that the entry of offshore tire brands into the North American market will be through the owner/operator ranks.

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With more than 25 years of experience reporting on transportation issues, Lou is one of the more recognizable personalities in the industry. An award-winning writer well known for his insightful writing and meticulous market analysis, he is a leading authority on industry trends and statistics.

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