Vredestein launches new 21/22 inch tyres for premium SUVs

The 115-year-old premium European tyre brand owned by Apollo Tyres since 2009 is enhancing its market presence in India by expanding the Pinza and Ultrac Vorti SUV tyre portfolio in this country

By Chandan B Mallik calendar 17 Jun 2024 Views icon2444 Views Share - Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to LinkedIn Share to Whatsapp
Vredestein launches new 21/22 inch tyres for premium SUVs

Apollo Tyres has been watching the growth trend in India’s SUV market that mirrors the global trend. Over the past three years, the country has witnessed soaring demand for luxury as well as super-luxury cars and SUVs. This niche segment has hit a new high in FY24 and according to JATO Dynamics India, cumulative sales of seven luxury carmakers in FY24 were 45,311 units, up 20.5 percent on FY23’s 37,615 units. According to Apollo Tyres, between 2019 and 2023, the SUV segment grew by 50.4% and continues to perform well.

While many SUVs are now made in India by various carmakers, premium car brands like Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, BMW Group, Lamborghini, Porsche are among those who sell SUVS, offer CBU, CKD or locally assembled models in this market.

This means that for the owners or operators of these vehicles, finding replacements of worn out or damaged tyres is a tough call as the Government of India banned imports of tyres in 2020. Ever since, there has been a demand-supply mismatch, and this is where aftermarket players come into the fore. They can source the tyres by importing them from various sources abroad and hefty import duties jacks up the price. Now, there’s a catch out here that most unsuspecting customers aren’t aware of. The tyres imported are usually a few years old, come with no warranties or guarantees as the supply source is not known.

The BMW X5 M with Pinza tyres was a delight on track with solid grip even at high speeds and holding up very well on fast corners and swift lane changes.

For the 16–18-inch SUV tyre market, Apollo Tyres offers AT tyres under Vredestein’s Pinza brand. The company also offers Ultrac Vorti tyres for luxury brands and is particularly focusing on larger sizes like 21-22 inches for premium or performance SUVs under this umbrella. Meanwhile, the tyremaker has also introduced a couple of upsized tyres in the Pinza range. This new addition should bring smiles to many high-end SUVs owners that have cars shod with asymmetric tyres from the OEM.

This logical expansion seems to be driven by the increasing popularity of SUVs, including electric vehicles (EVs), and the demand for high-performance tyres to match these powerful vehicles. Familiar names include Lamborghini Urus, Mercedes-Benz G Wagen, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Aston Martin DBX, Porsche Macan, Porsche Cayenne, AG 63G, Range Rover Sport among others.

Launching larger tyre sizes, such as 21-22 inches, is seen as a significant step forward in catering to the needs of premium SUV owners who had to often depend on imported tyres which may or may not be suitable for the vehicle for various reasons like compatibility, rating, age and post service warranties.

Exclusively made in India

During the technical presentation, the company said that for developing these large sized tyres, there were several engineering challenges that required advanced technology for manufacturing, testing, besides meeting global standards. The Chennai-based R&D centre played a significant role as did product development centres in Europe and other locations.

During development, testing these tyres in under various conditions in India and global locations, the programme included high speeds and noise levels to ensure they meet global standards and perform well in real-world scenarios. Over 500 combinations of carbon black and silica combinations were formulated and 6 tread designs tested to ensure the tyres performed flawlessly in extreme cold or hot regions. Rubber compounds in tyres are known to alter performance characteristics in varying operating conditions.

The durability aspect was also given priority besides ensuring best-in-class 5-Star performance on the rolling resistance coefficient and wet grip applications. The testing procedure was to complete a non-stop run equivalent to 84,000 kms at very high speeds in the lab with varying road conditions.

As before, the new addition of Vredestein tyres will be manufactured at Apollo’s state-of-the-art facilities in Vadodara, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. Besides compounding the material configuration, Vredestein Pinza HT tyres have been designed with certain job descriptions in mind. The design is unique and sports ‘Silent Groove’ and multi-pitch technology for quieter operation than competing all-terrain tyres. For off-roading there’s built in stone ejectors and three-ply triplex casing for enhanced durability and protection against external damage.

The Jagged-edge shoulder design is special for rugged aesthetics and full capability in mud, sand and snow.

In terms of compound development, these tyres benefit from the fifth generation advanced polymer blends that offer outstanding wet weather stability with full depth Interlocking sipes.

What’s more -- wider tread patterns that help increase tread stiffness and four herringbone grooves for water evacuation have also been factored in. And lastly, the passenger vehicle range from Vredestein carries a signature touch of renowned automobile designer, Giorgetto Giugiaro.

On the Pinza range, the tyre maker has introduced some unique upsize combinations like 245/60 R18 195H for cars like Tata Safari, M&M’s XUV and 265/65 R18 114T for popular SUVs like Toyota Fortuner.

Pricing advantage with factory guarantee

Import taxes on tyres in India are typically composed of Basic Customs Duty, Additional Customs Duty (commonly known as Countervailing Duty or CVD), and Integrated Goods and Services Tax (IGST). The rates can vary depending on factors such as the type of tyre being imported and any additional duties like anti-dumping or safeguard duties that may apply. As a result, an imported 21/22-inch SUV tyre could cost as much as Rs 60,000 apiece. Pricing for the made in India Vredestein Ultrac Vorti offering is said to fall between Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 and comes with an unprecedented warranty package and free of cost replacements if faults are found. Likewise, the Pinza range is also attractively priced between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000 for the aftermarket.

Product Experience

Apollo Tyres arranged a first-hand experience of the Vredestein Ultrac on a racetrack and the Pinza H/T tyres on the off-road trail. For the asphalt (road and track exercises) three SUVs – a Mercedes Benz G-Wagen, a Mercedes-Benz GLS and a BMW X5 M were available besides a Toyota Fortuner.

The track exercises were carried out at the new CoASTT High Performance Centre that’s been built by the Coimbatore Auto Sports and Transport Trust in partnership with racing franchise Mumbai Falcons. The just under 4km long anti-clockwise with 14 turns circuit runs has some elevation change and a combination of short and long turns, with fast direction changing opportunities and acceleration straights. The track is located less than a 30-minute drive from the Coimbatore International Airport.

On track

We tried out the three performance SUVs and performed some spirited manouevres to get a feel of the tyres capabilities when it comes to grip versus acceleration and taking fast corners. Two spirited laps were carried out with each car. The closest to swift lane change was facilitated by the cones placed on the track. Only missing was the opportunity to check the performance under hard braking and performance on a wet track.

On road

A stock Toyota Fortuner was offered as a test vehicle for the road section that consisted of highway driving at legal speeds and some real-time overtaking opportunities. At legitimate highway speeds, we took our foot off the throttle to let the engine come to near idle and noted that tyre noise had been very well contained. The cushioning of the tyre is quite good for such a heavy vehicle and response to driver inputs is quite impressive in terms of confidence and predictability.  

Off-road

The Isuzu D-Max V-Cross shod with the Pinza tyres highlighted confident qualities on this rutted off-road trail.

Toyota Hilux and Isuzu D-Max V-Cross pick-up trucks were the two vehicles that we drove over rutted undulated trails with variations of loose mud, rocks and gravel and some low traction wet muddy patches. Irrespective of the vehicle type, common was the benefits of high torque, pulling force and traction response from the tyres.

This feature was first published in Autocar Professional's June 15, 2024 issue.

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