The prospects of winter tire manufacturers depend as much on consumer perception as on the uncertain weather conditions.
According to our survey, nearly 60% of respondents agreed to using winter tires. However, there was still room for improvement in this landscape, as 40% respondents said they were currently not using any winter tires. Although the outlook on the winter tires market remains positive, the high dependency of this market on weather conditions continues to create situations of over-supply as well as scarcity.
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Winter Tires Market Regulatory Landscape
The winter tires market is as much influenced by technological innovation and consumer awareness, as it is by regulations mandating their use. The spike in winter tire sales in Canadian provinces is a case in point. Winter tire manufacturers are to be benefit if the growing spate of regulations becomes pervasive. Several countries in Europe and North America have enacted laws regarding appropriate use of winter tires.
- Austria: Winter tires are compulsory in the country for the period November 1st to April 15th. Winter tires are also compulsory for certain bus categories for the period November 1 to March 15.
- Bulgaria: From 15th of November to 1st March, winter tires with a minimum tread depth of 4mm are mandatory
- Czech Republic: Winter tires are mandatory from 1st November to 1st April, with minimum tread depth of 4mm
- Estonia: Winter tires are mandatory from 1st December to end February. The minimum tread depth these tires need to have is 3mm
- Germany: The changes in regulations in 2010 have made winter, or all-season tires mandatory in wintry conditions
- Iceland: Winter or all season-tires are mandatory from 1st November to 14th April.
Other European countries where winter tires are mandatory include Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Sweden.
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There are no specific regulations that mandate the use of winter tires in the US, however, most experts recommend using winter tires in wintry conditions. The recommendation is especially important for drivers in the northern states.
All the provinces in Canada recommend installing four winter tires when the temperature drops to less than 7 degree Celsius; however, Quebec is the only province where it’s mandatory for every vehicle to have winter tires.
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Winter Tire Testing: A Challenge for Manufacturers
Replicating the exact wintry conditions to test the performance of tires continues to be a challenge for winter tire manufacturers. Winter conditions can be extreme, and tire manufacturers often need assistance of holistic testing facilities to know how their offerings will actually perform under typical wintry conditions.
Sensing the gaps in the market, advanced winter tire testing facilities have sprung up near manufacturing hubs. For example, Test World is on an expansion spree, and has bought additional land in Finland to meet future demand for tire testing. Test World has been worked extensively with Hanook Tire, and built up its testing facility in Finland.