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News insightDemand for cold weather tyres may outstrip supplyBy Gareth RobertsTyre manufacturers and fast-fit centres are investing millions of pounds in cold weather tyres, with tempera­tures predicted to plummet again this winter.In anticipation of meeting a growing demand, ATS Euromaster has doubled its investment in the specialist tyres to £6 million, while Kwik-Fit Fleet has ordered four times more stock than last year. Peter Fairlie, group sales director of ATS Euromaster, said: "In 2010, the market didn't really take off until the first sign of snow. "However, by early September this year forward orders from fleets had already exceeded the stock we'd allocated for business customers. We've secured addi­tional supplies, but it's in high demand."It was a similar message from Kwik-Fit Fleet, which said that strong global demand last year meant supplies ran out. The company has ordered 200,000 tyres this year to meet anticipated orders from public and private sector fleets. However, it's advising them to place tyre orders now to ensure availability.Kwik-Fit Fleet sales director Peter Lambert said: "Meteorologists are already warning that the first harsh winter weather could arrive next month. "As a result, we are recommending that cold weather tyres should be fitted to vehicles from the end of September or in the first half of October and remain in place until the end of March."Dave Crinson, national sales manager car fleets UK and ROI, Michelin, said that "if we have a very harsh winter again, demand could easily outstrip supply". He added: "A lot of blue light fleets and home delivery services have taken on-board our message about pre-ordering cold weather tyres to guarantee availability, but plenty of others have not. Once more we expect demand will rise as soon as the first snow falls."The West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) are among those organisations which have already placed their order with ATS Euromaster. In total, 530 ambulances and 308 rapid response cars will be fitted with Michelin cold weather tyres during October and early November.Steve Farnsworth, EMAS fleet general manager, said: "They are not just a snow and ice tyre, the shorter stopping distance is also very noticeable in the slush and wet, plus handling on the dry track in cold weather was impressive too."A vehicle fitted with cold weather tyres which is travel­ling at 30mph on a snow-covered road, will come to a A Kwik-Fit tyre 'hotel' where standard tyres are stored when cold weather tyres are being used

NewsinsightNews digestRemarketing analysisSalesfiguresFuel pricesCar RecruitmentreviewsManufacturer newsBy Simon Harris, deputy editor, Fleet NewsMeteorologically speaking we are now in autumn, although from recent experience of the weather it might seem like it's been here for many weeks.Over the next few weeks, some fleets will be switching to cold weather tyres, and three of the cars Fleet News has on test will be fitted with winter rubber.Few people can now doubt the performance benefits of these specialised tyres even if they still think the previous two harsh winters are a blip in the cycle of our typically mild winters.The message that needs to be understood is that the advantages are evident below 7°C on dry roads, and on almost any wet road.Switching tyres is not free of charge. Although you probably end up using the same number of tyres per vehicle over its fleet life, you effectively pay to store one set of tyres permanently.But how many user-choosers have asked you about which 4x4s they could have for their next car to help keep them mobile over the winter? Ask them this: which will be able stop first in an emergency on an icy road - a 4x4 or a 2WD car on cold weather tyres?EDITOR'S COMMENT"Few people can doubt the benefits of cold weather tyres"standstill after 35 metres. With standard tyres the braking distance would be 43 metres - another two car lengths.Cold weather tyres are composed of more rubber and less silicone than standard tyres so they don't harden as much when it is cold. They work best in temperatures below 7ºC and have wider grooves, which have greater grip in snow and slush and more sideways grooves to give more edges and contact with the road surface.TyreSafe chairman Stuart Jackson said: "For any driver concerned about their safety on the road during the winter, our advice is simple. Cold weather tyres are the safest option."TyreSafe is pushing the benefits of cold weather tyres as it approaches tyre safety month in October and the reasons why can be clearly seen in a new online movie which can be viewed at www.tyresafe.orgCold weather tyres are a legal requirement in other EU countries such as Austria, Germany and Finland and many offer specific winter recommendations. However, there is no legislation or guidance in this country and Continental identified that only 47% of motorists are aware cold weather tyres exist.Meteorologist James Madden, of Exacta Weather, predicts October will see below average temperatures and snow in places, with heavier and more widespread snow storms in November and worse to come in December and January. Madden warned: "No region is likely to escape the harsh winter, not even the south. However, we expect Scotland, north east England, northern England and Northern Ireland will be the worst hit. I'd be surprised if we don't see weather records being broken."Cold weather tyres cut stopping distances in snow