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Retreading

The European Truck Tyre Market

Tyres for medium to heavy commercial vehicles (MHCV) – mainly trucks and buses – are designed to hold a load of up to 60 tons and speeds to 160km/h. Truck tyres are designed to be mounted on powertrains and trailers. They are sold on the original equipment market and on the replacement market. Through the very essence of the economic activity of a truck business – constantly transporting goods from A to B – the replacement market is naturally much larger than the original equipment segment. In 2015, 17 million truck tyres were sold on the replacement market in the European Union of which 24% were retreaded tyres and 21% imported tyres (86% of those imports coming from China).

 

The Retreading Business Model

Retreading is the industrial process of replacing a new tread band to a still-robust casing of the original new tyre. This business model came to the fore during WWII when resources were scarce. Quality truck tyres are designed to be regrooved and retreaded. By combining these two processes, the life span of the tyre can be multiplied by up to 3. Considering that on average, a truck tyre weighs 68 kg, and that a new tread band weighs 20kg, regrooving and retreading can save up to 96 kg of materials as opposed to buying only new tyres. Retreaded tyres are also substantially cheaper than their new premium quality equivalents.

 

The Economic and Social Footprint of the European Retreading Industry

An interesting study of the socio-economic impact of truck tyre retreading in Europe has been published in October 2016 by Ernst & Young and can be consulted here.

Retreading is a wide spread business model especially in the EU 15. Retreading is carried out by European new tyre producers as an additional commercial offer, and by independent retreaders, typically family owned micro-enterprises and small enterprises who retread casings in addition to their retail business.  Apart from the retreading industrial process, expertise on tyre construction, investment in equipment, collection of the casings and substantial know-how in deciding which used casings have remaining quality to be retreaded, are essential and highly developed in the EU retreating industry. In 2016, the EU retreading industry provided 10.000 direct jobs and estimated 18,000 jobs overall, although this number is rapidly dwindling. The industry also accounts for a significant amount of indirect and induced employment, with a certain degree of qualification all over the continent including areas where the labour market has proven to be challenging.