It is not easy for a tire company, even a well known one, to get an OE homlogation or to get one of its tires approved as original equipment for a vehicle. The leading manufacturer of premium tires, Pirelli Tyres S.p.A is constantly striving to add more OE homologations to its growing list of fitments for high-end cars and flaunted its latest fitments at the Geneva Motor Show. Though the latest version of the P Zero tire will not hit the market till early next month, it has already obtained 56 OE fitments according to officials from Pirelli who unveiled the new tire at the Geneva Motor Show on March 1.
The OE fitments for the new tire include collaborations with some of the most prestigious models in the market like the McLaren 570S GT, Giugiaro Italdesign GTZero concept car, the Lamborghini Centenario, and the Pagani Huayra BC.
According to Gregorio Borgo, Pirelli general manager of operations , the P Zero tire is a perfect fit for Pirelli’s strategies as the team is able to work along with customers to develop customized versions for models like the new Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. It is the right kind of product that is being sold to the right user. He went on to say that over half the cars from the “prestige” category and almost a third of the cars from the “premium” category that were exhibiting at the Geneva Motor Show had Pirelli tires as their OE.
The new P Zero increases the number of P Zero variants to 10. The P Zero tire has an illustrious history, with the first P Zero being launched in 1986. In 1987, it was chosen as the OE for the Ferrari F40. In the past 28 years, about 80 million P Zero tires have been sold and with the growing list of OE homologations, the company expects to reach the milestone of 100 million by 2018.
Currently, Pirelli has over 2,200 homologations, including more than 800 for the P Zero alone, thus averaging about one homologation a day throughout 2015 and into 2016.
The new P Zero tire has three different version comes in three different variants for three different types of vehicles. These include tires for high-performance sedans, top-range sports cars and the P Zero Corsa made specifically for supercars.
At the Pirelli press conference held on March 1, “Press Day” at the Geneva Auto Show, top executives from leading automotive companies paid tribute to Pirelli tires.
“It has been a privilege to work with them,” said Horacio Pagani, founder of Pagani Automobili S.p.A. He went on to compare tires to the shoes of a car, which play a crucial role in the manner in which a car expresses itself. He said that for vehicles like the Pagani Huayra BC which have more than 750 horsepower, it is important to have tires that are really dependable.
Mauricio Ruggieri, head of R&D at Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., said his company’s association with Pirelli is so strong that it is the only tiremaker to which Lamborghini lends cars.
The shared expertise of Pirelli and Lamborghini allows the auto maker to create cars that reach speeds exceeding 215 mph, according to Mr. Ruggieri.
“Our car is a rocket,” he said. “The tire is the only object between what we create and the ground.”
Mark Vinnels, executive director of product development at McLaren Automotive, noted that Pirelli has always met even the most stringent and often contradictory demands his company has made like low rolling resistance and road grip. Another aspect he mentioned was the foam lining Pirelli made for the tires for the 570S GT, the car intended for road use that McLaren unveiled at the Geneva show.
“The tire, from our standpoint, is the single most important component on the car,” he said.
Pirelli designed a customized tire for the Italdesign GTZero, an electric Gran Turismo 2+2 conceptualized as both a family car and a high-performance car and a family car. The tires with 21 inch rim diameter in the front, and 22 on the rear were designed exclusively for this model and manufactured in Rome, Ga.
Homologation was the way forward for Pirelli in view of the growing share of premium and luxury cars in the automotive market. These models had advanced technical and performance characteristics that made it necessary for them to have customized tires. It was no longer possible to use generic or identical tires for all models. Pirelli works with automotive manufacturers right from the development stage to develop tailormade tires for each model using dedicated technologies, processes and materials.
Pirelli increased its focus on homologation as an outcome of market trends, as the prestige car market is expected to grow sevenfold from 2000 to 2020 while the premium category is projected to triple by the end of this decade while the market for standard cars will grow only by 50 per cent.
The new century saw the creation of new segments like the luxury SUV category, electric vehicles and premium sports category. Geographically, new markets gained in prominence like the Asia Pacific region and the Persian Gulf. Many new players like McLaren and Tesla entered the market.
Pirelli is the market leader when it comes to homologations, well ahead of Continental A.G. and other tire companies.
Homologation is expected to drive a spike in tire sales. In a survey that Pirelli recently conducted, though only 16 percent of respondents knew about the concept of homologation, once they understood what it meant, 78 percent f the respondents said they would be willing to pay a higher price to buy OE tires.
Pirelli does not plan to withdraw any of the other nine versions of the P Zero from the market when the new tire is launched. It has however revealed that it expects the new version to account for over half of P Zero sales in 2016 and to comprise a major part of the sales in the Pirelli group after that.
In Europe, the new P Zero is slated to be launched in Lisbon in early April in Lisbon, according to Borgo, while it is scheduled to be launched in Asia in Shanghai in mid- to late April. The details of the tire’s launch in North America are yet to be finalized.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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