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Are offshore tires affecting retreading practices?

One of the first things I learned when I started writing about the transportation industry almost 20 years ago is that retreading is a damn smart strategy. Back then the main concern was with getting the most out of your tire investment. Added to that today is the environmentally friendly aspect of retreading.
For most of the past two decades the main threat to retreading growth has been persistent ignorance among some in the industry about just how safe and reliable retreading products can be. For some reason some people just wanted to believe that all the “gators” on the road had to do with retreads, even if that wasn’t the case, if you’ll pardon the pun.
Today, the greatest threat to retreading I think comes from cheap offshore tires. As I mentioned in my previous blog on the subject, our latest research, completed this summer, found that use of offshore tires is on the increase. This year we found that 18% of managers said their fleets had experimented with the new offshore brands (I’m talking products such as Double Coin, Triangle, Woosung, Double Diamond and Aeolus). The same percentage of owner/operators said likewise. Both fleets and owner/operators that use offshore tires use them predominantly in the trailer position, which is a popular position for retreaded tires.
Yet 71% of fleet managers and 79% of owner/operators surveyed said they did not bother to retread their offshore tires.
We also asked fleets and owner/operators if they would replace their brand name tires with these offshore brands. I’m not sure yet what to make of the results on the fleet side. The vast majority of respondents, 90%, said no they wouldn’t. But a 10% potential market share for offshore brands this early in their introduction is nothing to sneeze at either. And on the owner/operator side, 18% said they would replace their brand name tires with offshore brands.
We also asked if they would use offshore tires instead of retreading their brand name casings. Fifteen percent of fleets said they would and 20% of owner/operators said likewise.
When asked for the main reason they would make such a choice, price was given as the primary reason by both fleets and owner/operators.
I realize that offshore tires are cheaper to buy but I have to wonder if the fleets and owner/operators that are no longer retreading because they’re using these tires are not being too short sighted in their thinking. Are all the costs and savings of the brand name tires being taken into consideration or is the sticker price the only thing being considered? At the same time, it makes me think that if the offshore brands are able to improve their casings so that they can be more easily retreaded there could be one heck of a battle for market share in the North American truck tire market in years to come.

Lou Smyrlis

Lou Smyrlis

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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