The long winter means that the Salten tire center in Bodø still has to work hard to change winter tires to summer tires.
– We have been led to believe that the season is over for now and winter will not come here in the north anytime soon, says Stefan Langseth, Salten Dekksenter Stormyra service worker.
While drivers wait a few months without squeaking studded tires, the Bodø tire center has already started thinking about winter with great concern.
– Getting enough studded tires can be a problem in autumn. Large producers have factories in Russia and production has stopped because they cannot get raw materials into the country and can’t get them out again, said Jøran Sæthre, General Manager of Salten Dekksenter Stormyra.
The warehouses are empty
Last year, 4.3 million passenger car tires were sold in Norway.
If you factor in agriculture, buses and other heavy traffic, you get 4.9 million tires, Statistics Norway data show.
30 percent of them are imported from Russian factories. The country is a major force, especially when it comes to studded and winter tires.
The war in Ukraine and the trade boycott with Russia mean that the tire industry in Norway and Europe is facing a very uncertain time.
– As for the stock numbers we’re getting right now, it looks a little scary. We sell new winter tires to those customers who already have constant tire wear and therefore do so months before we should have really started. We have to do this to get enough tires, says Sæthre.
– The situation is serious
The company Starco is one of the country’s largest importers of tires and rims to Norway.
They are worried.
– The situation must be said to be serious as practically all manufacturers are reporting major capacity issues. Many well-known brands produce their winter tires in Russia, says Paul Oord, CEO of Starco Norway.
– Russian factories cannot now export tires, but only produce for the Russian domestic market. In addition, there has been a big shortage of raw materials used to make tires, says Oord.
Steel is an example of this.
Both Russia and Ukraine are its main producers, and during the war, production at the Mariupol steel plant in Ukraine was bombed and stopped.
– Never experienced this
In addition, large amounts of oil, nylon and “soot” are used for production.
– Tire prices have risen sharply this year. The reason is problems with raw materials, war, undercapacity and shipping prices, which have also risen sharply, says Oord.
– One of the factories we represent said a few months ago that tire prices will generally rise by 50 percent before the end of the year. Several producers have already grown by more than 25 percent, says Oord.
The industry experiences that you simply do not know the price of the ordered winter tires until the containers arrive in Norway.
– I have never experienced this as long as I have worked in the tire industry, which is 30 years, says Paul Oord, CEO of Starco Norway.
Especially in the case of heavier vehicles, a sharp increase in the price of studded and winter tires can be noticed.
There aren’t many bright spots to see after the announcement of further sanctions against Russia.
You may find yourself in a situation where the winter tire deficit becomes so great that you have to prioritize.
– Then of course we prefer rescue services and rescue ships. Then we have to look at our other customers, says Oord.
This also has consequences for the Norwegian Truck Association (NLF).
“In general, there has been a big price increase in the Norwegian transport sector over the past year and a half, and the skyrocketing fuel prices have created challenges for our member companies,” says Knut Gravråk, head of the Norwegian Road Transport Association.
He adds that many are struggling to adjust their prices quickly enough to catch up with developments.
– This has put many people in a very difficult liquidity situation and the NLF has long been trying to get politicians to act to improve the situation. We will continue this work unabated in the process of the supplemented state budget, he says.
Has reached good agreements
A drastic price increase and the unavailability of winter tires could have put the Union in a difficult position and made the situation worse.
Gravråk assures members that NLF has reached good agreements.
– Dekkmann has confirmed to us that they have already procured enough winter tires to cover all our member companies’ trucks for the next winter season. The price increase for these products is also much smaller than announced, says Knut Gravråk, head of the Norwegian Truck Association.
At the Salten tire center in Bodø, people are encouraged to secure tires for the winter early.
– Can it become critical?
– We don’t know. Let’s hope for the best, but I have my doubts. When we get to September, we may know more, says Jøran Sæthre, general manager of Salten Dekkeksenter Stormyra.