LAS VEGAS — The post-pandemic tire market has been a roller-coaster of numbers.
Demand for commercial tires, once hotter than an Italian sportscar, has trailed off. Demand for passenger tires, steady for many during the pandemic, remain flat, and the market for tires for electric vehicles (EVs) continues to be a wildcard, as tire makers ramp up for the onslaught of EVs set to hit the market in the coming few years.
There is another phenomenon in the market, though, that has caught the attention of Pirelli Tire North America Inc. CEO Claudio Zanardo.
He calls it "clusterization," a trend he defines as consumers migrating to opposite ends of the tire spectrum, either Tier 1 premier brands or Tier 4 value brands.
That is good for the Italian tire maker, Zanardo said, which markets its products in the Tier 1 premium category.
"The customer who is choosing the Tier 1 brand, who wants to have the quality and performance, they keep going," Zanardo told Tire Business. "The (lower tier) part of the segment is growing, for sure, Customers are looking for very cheap product, but I see clusterization in two big segments.
"Where we see the market suffering is (the tiers) in between, but we are not there. Our focus is on the Tier 1 product, and that market we seek keeps growing."