Let’s face it, even when you buy tyres from a competitive supplier, they’re not exactly cheap. For many people, it’s a mystery why an apparently simple rubber ring can cost so much. So, in the first part of this article, we’ll be delving into why tyres are so expensive (then in part two, we’ll look at what you can do to keep costs down).
1. Tyres are technological masterpieces
A smartphone is obviously a technological masterpiece. It’s a camera, a GPS, a health monitor, a mobile banking facility, and much more.
And yet, in its way, the humble tyre is also a towering technical achievement. It works when it’s 40 degrees outside or minus 20. It does its job for tens of thousands of miles, with incredibly low failure rates. It runs quietly and cushions your ride over terrible surfaces. It provides enough resistance to stop your fast-moving car, and yet keeps it down enough to save fuel.
Every single one of those capabilities had to be researched and tested, and that means huge costs for the company. That’s inevitably reflected in the tyre’s price.
When we buy an expensive new smartphone, we accept that Apple or Samsung have got to recoup their massive R & D costs. We don’t tend to do the same for Dunlop or Continental… but maybe we should.
2. Covid & Climate Change
The one raw material that everyone knows goes into a tyre is rubber. So it stands to sense that when rubber prices go up, so does the tyre.
Recently, the production of rubber has been hit by a double whammy – a pandemic and extreme weather events.
Take South-East Asia, a major supplier of rubber. When Covid hit, border restrictions meant that migrant work forces weren’t available for rubber plantation work. At the same time, worldwide demand for latex gloves went through the roof. On top of that, some producing countries were hit by storms, flash floods, and even landslides… part of the depressing pattern of climate change we’re seeing worldwide.
Oh, and on top of all that, some plantations were struck by a fungal leaf disease.
This perfect storm led to reduced rubber supply and invreased demand… and those effects are still playing out at your local supplier.
3. Russia’s War on Ukraine
As this is written, we’re still embroiled in the biggest European war since WWII. The Russian invasion of Ukraine – and the international sanctions against Russia – have sent shockwaves through virtually every economic sector.
One of the most direct effects on the tyre industry was the sudden, acute shortage of carbon black. There’s about 3kg of this dirty, sooty stuff in a typical tyre – and half of Europe’s supply came from Russia.
So severe was the shortage that Michelin had to temporarily shut its facility at Cholet – we even wrote an article in June 2022 titled: The great carbon black shortage: can the tyre industry adapt?
Since then, the market has adapted, but carbon black prices remain high, and it’s just one of several raw material costs that are passed onto the consumer.
4. Nothing escapes inflation
In addition to increased raw material costs (and just in case you hadn’t noticed), everything else is getting more expensive too.
Energy costs for manufacturers have rocketed up, transport costs likewise, and workers at various stages of the supply chain have had pay increases – partly to deal with their own cost of living increases.
It all adds up, and it’s another factor keeping tyre prices high.
Still… what can you do?
If that all sounds a bit gloomy for your wallet, actually, there are some positive steps you can make to keep your tyre costs down.
We’ll dive into that in Part Two – but in the meantime, don’t forget that if you’re in the South Oxfordshire area, B K Tyres offers around 6000 tyres at competitive prices – and we come to you for fitting.
The BK Tyres blog carries news, views and information on tyres and related subjects. BK Tyres supplies and fits tyres throughout South Oxfordshire, including the communities of Abingdon, Didcot and Henley on Thames. As an independent, family run mobile provider, we provide exceptional levels of service and affordable prices. Contact us today.