Derek McMartin, MD of Maxxis, underlines the benefits of all-season tires
According to What Car?, 95% of UK motorists use summer tires all year round. Experience suggests that this is due to a general lack of understanding of the substantially improved performance winter tires can deliver in the snow and ice, and the outstanding progress made in the field of developing tires designed for all conditions. The balance between cold, wet weather stability, dry grip and low rolling resistance for better fuel consumption is a difficult one to strike, but it is clear that many of the manufacturers in our industry have been investing heavily to achieve just that.
All-season tires were introduced to the UK market several decades ago, but the latest generation of these products are fantastic compared with their predecessors. At Maxxis, we’ve led this innovation through the rising all-round performance levels of our all-season range, which includes 150 options across products such as the AP2 passenger car and MA-LAS van/light truck tires. The latest offerings in this sector are employing features such as high-density sipes, tougher sidewalls and an advanced tread compound to ensure a strong performance in a variety of conditions, and we think it’s time these advancements are recognized by general motorists.
Changes are certainly afoot with our European counterparts Germany, whose law makers recently updated regulations for winter weather driving. From January 1, 2018, tires with the M+S [mud and snow] labeling will no longer be accepted on German roads in winter conditions. Instead, only winter and all-season tires with the Alpine or Three Peak Mountain Snow Flake [3PMSF] marking will be permitted on the roads. With this marking appearing on an increasing number of all-season tires, including our own AP2, it is clear motoring authorities are recognizing their capability to perform well in adverse weather conditions. This is paying dividends for dealers, with mid-year all-season tire sales up a healthy 9% for 2017-18, compared with the same period in 2016-17, according to the latest GfK Panel Market data.
Raising consumer and tire dealer awareness of the benefits of all-season tires will be critical in replicating the growth seen in Germany in the UK. The EU proposals to make it mandatory for tire labels to be shown to customers at the point of sale will go a long way toward achieving this, as the new labels include updated information on snow and ice performance. With dealers offering them up for comparison, it’s safe to say tire buyers, especially those replacing tires in the winter months, will at least be considering swapping summer for all-season products.
The annual changeover of winter and summer tires will always have its place, particularly in countries that experience plummeting temperatures and persistent snowy weather. For the majority of Central and Northern Europe, however, all-season tires will continue to provide solid performance near both ends of the spectrum for people who acknowledge the benefits of tires specifically designed for cold and wet conditions, but that don’t want the hassle of buying, keeping and fitting two sets of tires.