There are several options for tire dealers who would like to offer their customers replacement rims.
The supply of replacement rims and wheels continues to evolve even though sales of new and used vehicles are currently slowing due to lack of availability. However, some customers will arrive with cars that have only one set of wheels and the dealer had better be able to offer them complete sets for the season change.
Obviously, depending on the nature of the vehicle, the customer’s budget and his intention to keep his car for a long time, the dealer can draw from an enriched catalog of products to offer.
“The market is still divided between the alloy rim and the steel wheel in winter applications,” explains Rémy Tremblay, sales development manager at distributor Robert Thibert, which supplies a large number of tire centers. However, the price difference between the two types of products has melted, which makes the alloy rim very attractive.”
As he explains, replacement wheel suppliers are closely monitoring the introduction of new car models to develop similar solutions in the aftermarket. What he sees, as do all tire industry players, is the growth in wheel sizes. “You hardly ever see 16-inch diameter wheels anymore,” he notes. Certainly, the steel wheel does meet the demand for smaller diameter assemblies, but the trend is to see more and more 19-inch and larger wheels.”
The design of the replacement rims has also changed, especially for the winter version, where the cutting of the part has been adapted to avoid snow accumulation that could cause vibrations. On a completely different note, Tremblay also sees a proliferation of more stylish rims in the summer months, allowing enthusiasts to add a personalized touch to their vehicles.
Among the economical solutions, multi-application alloy wheels are still on the market and are proving to be a troubleshooting solution that is losing popularity. These rims require a centering ring and consumers prefer a wheel that will fit their vehicle perfectly.
Wheels for electric vehicles
A sign of the times, electromobilists are also looking for an alternative to the high-priced original rims offered by dealerships. Here too, the industry is on the lookout and developing solutions. “What we offer in this category of products are rims, manufactured according to the FlowForge technology (flow forming) which combine a great resistance and the lightness wished by this very fastidious clientele as regards the weight which can influence the autonomy of their vehicle”, details Tremblay.
In this category, Sylvain Dupuis, president of DTD 2000, sees two types of requests. Owners of high-end electric vehicles are going to want replacement parts that are identical to the original ones. The other part of the market will go more towards more economical products, notably the steel wheel, even if Mr. Dupuis indicates that, indeed, the future is with the more expensive flow-through rims.
Replacement steel rims
Much of this supplier’s demand is for the steel wheel. The president of DTD 2000 considers that this product represents a very interesting alternative to offer to the customers for several reasons. “The manufacturing process for our products has become more refined,” he explains. “The coating on our steel wheels is designed to withstand our winter conditions. What’s more, we offer a range of wheel covers that enhance these rims and match the vehicle’s original aesthetic. You can save money, put away the expensive original wheels, and get a very nice result.”
He mentions that with the multiplication of models and sizes, few tire centers are able to have the rims in inventory to meet all needs. However, this should not be a hindrance to the sale since the delivery is very fast. Finally, Dupuis mentions that when selling replacement rims, it is important to offer customers the opportunity to add, for a few dollars, the corresponding mounting bolts. As he points out, the bolt attachment points on these rims may differ from those on the original rims with the vibration problems that could result.