Demand for winter tyres soars as fleet chiefs prepare for all-seasons – Kwik-Fit
Kwik-Fit Fleet launched its annual winter tyre programme in September 2011 and figures to the end of December last year reveal a massive 243% increase in sales versus the same period in 2010 with ‘hotel’ bookings up a staggering 1,391%.
Following the recent harsh winters many fleet managers decided not to risk being caught out in 2011-12 and opted to fit cold weather tyres in the autumn.
Kwik-Fit Fleet also saw a surge in demand when the first snow fell in the Peak District, north of England and Scotland in November last year.
Although the bulk of the UK has been snow-free to date this winter, recent sub-zero temperatures across the country have played to the strengths of cold weather tyres.
Composed of more rubber and less silicone so they don’t harden as much when it is cold, winter tyres work best in temperatures under 7˚Celsius. Equipped with wider grooves it means they have greater grip in snow and slush and more sideways grooves to give more edges and contact with the road surface.
That translates into shorter braking distances which reduces the risk of a crash: at 20 mph a car or van equipped with winter tyres will stop 11 metres sooner on icy roads than if fitted with summer tyres; at 30 mph the braking distance on snowy roads is reduced by eight metres.
As well as improving road safety, swapping summer tyres for winter tyres designed to perform in the harshest of conditions could actually reduce fleet operating costs.
Kwik-Fit Fleet sales director Peter Lambert (Inset) explained: 'Winter tyres can last as long as summer tyres and perform better in winter conditions. Depending on vehicle mileage, winter tyres could last for two or even three winters. As, a result wear and tear suffered by summer tyres, which is increased in harsh road conditions, is reduced so postponing their replacement.'
He continued: 'Many fleet operators have acknowledged that winter tyres have a vital part to play in ensuring vehicles remain on the road in all conditions. Once snow has fallen the opportunity has been missed so fleet managers want to ensure their vehicles are well prepared to cope with winter driving conditions without putting drivers and their organisation’s ability to operate at risk.
'Fleet decision-makers can’t control the elements, but they can control the performance of their vehicle fleet to minimise downtime.'
Kwik-Fit Fleet’s "hotel" facility sees it remove, pack, label and store each company car and van’s summer tyres at its National Distribution Centre for £10 per tyre per season. In the spring, the summer tyres will be returned to each customer’s centre of choice for fitment with the winter tyres removed and stored until required again.