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Truck Tire Marketshares and Language Issues

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If you want to understand what the phrase “lingering effects” means when speaking about the Great Recession, one can look at the current state of the U.K. medium truck tire market.

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Earlier this month, Tyres & Accessories revealed its 2014 rundown of truck tire brand marketshares in the still-together U.K. and topping the list was Hankook.

Yes, that Hankook.

And jumping to a prominent number in the mix was Giti with its GT Radial brand.

Both brands experienced accelerated growth thanks to truck operators looking for lower cost, quality tires as Europe was gripped by its Great Recession. Five years on, both are holding their gained ground.

T&A’s share data came as the result of “speaking to high level contacts at various manufacturers, wholesalers and third-party analysts in order to produce an original analysis of the status quo.” This year’s analysis was T&A’s first review of the truck tire segment since 2009, deep in the heart of Europe’s treacherous recession.

In the 2009 roundup, Giti was included among the “Others,” which carried a combined 5% share. Topping that list was Bridgestone at 26% and Michelin at 25%. Hankook then had a 20% share, besting Conti (15%) and Goodyear Dunlop (9%).

For 2014, T&A gauged U.K. annual truck tire at around 80,000 tires a month or 960,000 for the year. Not quiet as beefy as the U.S., where more than 15 million medium radials will pass through our market this year.

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Still, the rise of Hankook and Giti are impressive feats.

But we don’t know exactly how the players play out. For its 2014 rundown, our colleagues across the pond “haven’t published precise percentages owing to the fact that top four companies are within two-three percentage points of each other and this is within our margin for error. Together they make up such a significant part of the market – basically three quarters or more – that this has an inherent impact on the rest of the calculations, pushing them beyond their usefulness as a market landscape indicator.”

Fair enough. Hankook appears to be in the lead, based on the size of the pie slice in the accompanying pie chart, but Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear Dunlop (which showed equally impressive gains over T&A’s last marketshare round-up five years ago) are all very close.

Hankook in the U.K. seemed nonplused by the whole thing. “We asked Hankook themselves if they could confirm or deny our conclusions,” T&A wrote. “Here is the company’s conformational, if somewhat guarded, reply: ‘As a company business principle Hankook Tire never publishes exact figures about sales volumes in local markets. Nevertheless we can confirm Hankook Tire’s marketshare as stated, as well as our strong position as one of the leading brands in the U.K. TBR market. Reasons maybe found in our top of the line high quality Hankook product portfolio, our experienced and motivated sales team, as well as our loyal customer base which in turn enables us to maximize TBR sales opportunities in the U.K.’”

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Here’s a problem you don’t see everyday. Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that about one-third of China’s population – some 400 million people – don’t speak or understand Mandarin, even though it is China’s official language.

The magazine said that according to Li Weihong, director of the State Language Commission, “About 70% of the total population can speak Putonghua (the Chinese word for the language), and 95% of the literate population knows how to use standard Chinese characters. However, only 10% [of that 70%] can speak standard Putonghua fluently.”

As BusinessWeek pointed out, the country has seven major dialects – Cantonese, Hokkien, Xiang and Wu – and thousands of lesser ones that have evolved over the centuries. But in 1955 as a means to promote “national unity,” the Chinese Communist Party made Mandarin as the country’s official dialect.

That law was strengthened in 2000 with China’s Law on Standard Spoken and Written Chinese Languages: “The standard spoken and written Chinese language shall be used in such a way as to be conducive to the upholding of state sovereignty and national dignity, to unification of the country and unity of the nationalities, and to socialist material progress and ethical progress.”

May not sound like that big of a deal, but China’s government is making a point of advising and warning officials, broadcasters and even movie companies that the use of any other dialect is forbidden.
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In Detroit, which can always use some good news, a group of industrious people are turning scrap tires into footwear. Specifically branded sandals produced from  the thousands of tires dumped illegally across the troubled city.sandals-tire-tread

Called “Detroit Treads,” the sandals are cut from the treads of the scrap tires, and an Old English-style “D” (similar to the logo of the Detroit Tigers) is embossed on the bottom.

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It’s turned into quite a business for the Cass Community Social Services organization, which started the program, with sales in 45 U.S. states and as far away as Australia.

Detroit Treads sandals sell for $25 a pair (plus shipping), and come in size for men (6-13.5) and Women (4-12). Those interested can click here or call (313) 883-2277 ext. 203.

The business started in 2007 converting scrap tires into car floor mats, adding sandals shortly thereafter. But the sandals really took off earlier this year, gaining a lot of media attention.

Like this.

But is supports a great cause. Cass Community Social Services is a non-profit that assists people living in areas of concentrated poverty by offering food, housing, health care and jobs. CCSS prepares and serves more than one million meals a year, provides shelter and affordable housing for 285 homeless people nightly, and offers both a free medical clinic and medication monitoring for residents.

Proceeds from sandal sales goes directly to support this program.

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