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Growth in the global markets for rubber tyres and retreads is speeding up, a report from The Business Research Company shows. Rising at 6.8% annually to 2017, when it was worth $244 billion at ex-manufacturer prices, the market is now expanding at 8.4% a year and will be worth $337 billion by 2021. Tyres are the biggest-selling and fastest-growing segment in the rubber products market, accounting for nearly three-fifths of that market, which is worth $409 billion.

Asia is both the biggest and the fastest-growing region for the rubber products market, accounting for 40% of the total in 2017 and currently growing at 5% year on year. Within Asia, it is China that dominates, being worth by itself 17% of the global total. However, India’s market, though much smaller, worth only 6% of the total, is rising faster than China’s, at nearly 10% a year. The character of the Asian market, however, is changing, as the March 2015 purchase of Pirelli by China’s ChemChem shows. This acquisition was aimed at giving Chemchem access to the technology to make premium tyres for the Chinese market.

Bridgestone, Michelin, Good Year, ChemChem and Yokohama Rubber are the big five manufacturers in the market, with shares adding up to 20% of the global total in 2017.

Computer simulation and 3D printing technology are having a significant impact on tyre manufacturing. For example, software-aided systems offer 3D presentations on production line processes, including potential fault lines and also provide control over the manufacturing process. 3D printing technologies allow manufacturers to produce automotive tyres that can be customized to different levels of hardness and elongation. Again, in March 2016, Goodyear introduced the Eagle-360, a 3D-printed spherical tyre that promises to provide 360 degree motion.