Operations director, Mike McRae says: “We are seeing increasing cases of manufacturers equipping cars with tyres of unnecessarily high performance specification - for example, a W speed-rated tyre, good for 168mph, on a car with a top speed of 135mph, still some 65mph over the UK legal limit. A V-rated tyre, sufficient for speeds of up to 149 mph will do the job perfectly adequately and safely, so why over specify?”
In an analysis of tyre replacement patterns, VELO found that over the last four years its fitment of H speed rated tyres (once the norm for most upper-medium segment cars) has fallen from 30% of its total volume to just 20%.
During the same period, fitment of W rated tyres, which accounted for fewer than 4% of volume four years ago, has undergone a four-fold increase, now accounting for 16% of volume. The consumption of T rated tyres (for speeds of up to 118mph) dropped from 15% to 6%.
“On a size-for-size, brand-for-brand basis, the increase in cost from a H to a W is around 30%,” says McRae, “which has a major impact on SMR costs, especially for a high-mileage car.”
He continues: “Whilst I understand why manufacturers want to play safe and build in a margin, some seem to be going over the top, for no good reason. It is important they realise the needs of the fleet market and tailor product specifications accordingly. Tyre fitting companies are not allowed to down-spec tyres from the rating specified by the manufacturer for a vehicle and so in many ways our, and their, hands are tied as regards taking a sensible, but still safe, approach to cost reduction.”
McRae said that if manufacturers took a more sensible approach it would result in leasing companies looking more favourably on their products , price accordingly and therefore make those models much more competitive propositions.