Automotive wheel coating market trends for the year 2017 and beyond

Professionals in the automotive specialty equipment industry are of the view that the automotive wheel coating market should show an upward trend in the years to come. New technology, an improving global economy and better product offerings should certainly bode well for sales in the automotive wheel coating market. Tyre performance has notably improved and this pertains to not only broad-market tyres but also niche markets segments including mud-terrain tyres used by light trucks. The development of tyres can be considered more evolutionary than revolutionary but certain years such as 2014 were breakout years in terms of tyre design and compounding. An important reason for this could be the push from the U.S. federal government to implement Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CARE) standards. The major push by the federal government towards stringent CARE standards has naturally compelled automakers to demand tyres that provide a better fuel economy. That is why tyre manufacturers are designing and building automobile tyres with lower rolling resistance. This markedly improves fuel economy figures but can lead to an unfortunate trade-off in vehicle performance. Customers have even complained that these tyres wear out quickly and provide less grip while driving.

Hybrid tyres – also known as tweeners – are one of the most prominent trends that can impact the automotive wheel coating market. In passenger cars, the development of the ultra-high performance touring tyre that combines ride comfort with the go-anywhere capability of touring tyres that includes snow traction with the handling and speed rating of an UHP tyre is anticipated to become increasingly important in the near future. Tyre manufacturers are now offering their products with a limited tread-wear warranty and they are made available in a number of popular sizes. The next generation of broad market tyre is what manufacturers are racing to create and they have even been showcased at various shows.

Price sensitivity is a make-or-break factor in several cases and this is true in the automotive wheel coating market too. Even in the high performance and ultra-high performance tyre segment, customers gravitate towards the product with the lowest price. This could be because tyre manufacturers are not able to properly explain the technological and performance benefits that can be achieved with UHP tyres. Tyre makers seem to be stuck in a different era when it comes to present customers and their view of the automotive wheel coating market. Manufacturers would do well to stop believing that the world is still in a recessionary phase.

Hybrid type ‘tweener’ tyres are also available in the light truck segment. The main objective is to fit between all-terrain offerings that have begun to resemble passenger cars and flat-out mud terrain tyres that are somewhat noisy and not meant for those looking for high performance. Off-road tweeners are more aggressive than regular all-terrain tyres but not as much as mud terrain tyres. These tweener tyres are perfect for hunters or construction workers who don’t need a loud, aggressive tyre represented by mud terrain. These tyres usually use open lugs and have sidewall enhancements to provide traction. They are also more durable, with greater silica content along with anti-chipping, long-life agents.

Few consumers are able to differentiate between performance tyres meant for passenger cars or all-terrain tyres of light trucks. Wheels tell a completely different story though. From complex design elements to unique finishes, wheels can dramatically alter the look of the entire vehicle. Designs have become more focussed on detail and wheel companies are striving to create some of the most innovative products. The large prevalence of wide wheels and large diameters may create some confusion for customers though. It is the responsibility of the installer to educate the customer about any potential problems before an oversized tyre or wheel package is sold. Without modifications such as a lift kit, tyres could rub off on suspension components or the fender.

Flow forming technology is another important trend in the automotive wheel coating market. This technique uses a combination of pressure, heat and spinning to create a high-strength wheel at a much lower cost than a wheel that is forged. A lot of companies have turned to flow-forming technology to create stronger, efficient and lighter products.

Experts strongly believe that technology is both a boon and a bane for the automotive wheel coating market. Vehicle systems have become so advanced that the overall industry must put the time and effort needed to understand how even minute changes can impact both the vehicle as well as the customer’s safety. That is exactly what SEMA and the SEMA Wheel & Tire Council are striving towards for their members.

Nikhil Kaitwade

With over 8 years of experience in market research and consulting industry, Nikhil has worked on more than 250 research assignments pertaining to chemicals, materials and energy sector. He has worked directly with about 35 reputed companies as lead consultant for plant expansion, product positioning, capacity factor analysis, new market/segment exploration, export market opportunity evaluation and sourcing strategies.