Pirelli, the multinational tire manufacturer focused on consumer production of tires for cars, motorcycles and bicycles, celebrates an important anniversary this year: the company was founded by Giovanni Battista Pirelli in 1872 – that is, 150 years ago – in Milan, Italy where it still has its headquarters.
After its foundation in Milan, the expansion of Pirelli began in the early 20th century with the opening of its first production facilities abroad tells Tommaso Mantegazza, the Managing Director of Pirelli’s local subsidiary, Pirelli Hungary Ltd., to Diplomacy&Trade. “In the same period, Pirelli also got its start in racing. In 1907, the Italian team driving an Itala fitted with Pirelli tires won the Beijing-Paris automobile race, marking the beginning of a history of victories for the company in the world of motorsport,” he adds.
A history of success
The Managing Director highlights that the story of the company is a successful one of continuous product innovation, from the revolutionary tires of the 1920s, first of all the ‘Stella Bianca’ then the first radial tire in the 1950s with the Cinturato, and again with the PZERO™ launched in the 1980s, up to the current range of products and services for new mobility. Today, Pirelli is among the leading tire manufacturers in the world and the only one completely dedicated to the consumer market with high end tires for cars, motorcycles and bicycles. Passion, innovation, ability to look forward to anticipate the change and love for the Italian tradition are the basis of this history of success and also for the future development of the company.
Another anniversary the company celebrates this year is that of the Hungarian subsidiary, which was set up 25 years ago. As Tommaso Mantegazza explains, “it is an important milestone for Pirelli Hungary and we are very proud of it. The local subsidiary was opened so as to be closer to the Hungarian customers and since 1997, we have developed our presence in the Hungarian market and our share in the premium and prestige segment, in line with Pirelli’s global strategy.”
A completely new range
Manufacturers constantly renew their product range in order to offer the best to their customers. As for the direction of renewal at Pirelli, the Managing Director points out that the Pirelli range has been completely renewed in the last two years; after renewing the Cinturato family in 2021, Pirelli unveiled this February the new Scorpion tire range dedicated to Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), the vehicle segment that is set to become the most popular in the world. The latest range marks a complete renewal of the family that has specialized in the SUV market for more than 35 years, with the range tailor-made products for premium models and featuring specialized tires for different seasons: Pirelli Scorpion, Pirelli Scorpion Allseason SF2 and Pirelli Scorpion Winter 2.
‘Elect’-ed for electric vehicles
Electric vehicles are gaining more and more ground and Pirelli is the leading tire manufacturer in this segment. “For electric and plug-in hybrid cars Pirelli together with leading car manufacturers has introduced a specific type of tire distinguished by the ‘Elect’ marking. Pirelli ‘Elect’ presents three main advantages: first and foremost is low rolling resistance, which increases the driving range while reducing consumption. Another key advantage is noise reduction, for ultimate comfort and to emphasize the quiet interior the cabin. Finally, an immediate grip to bite into the asphalt instantly, putting the power down for a quick getaway. There is also another feature that is worth mentioning: a special structure designed to support the weight of a battery-powered vehicle. In 2021 alone, the number of ‘Elect’ homologations exceeded 250. This number underlines Pirelli as the tire manufacturer with the biggest share of homologations for electric and plug-in hybrid cars,” Tommaso Mantegazza stresses.
A sporting company
Pirelli has long been present in motorsports. As the Managing Director notes, Pirelli has been active in sporting competition for over 110 years. Currently, the company participates in over 350 car and motorcycle sport events and since 2011, it has been the exclusive tire supplier to the Formula 1© World Championship and will be the sole Global Tire Partner until 2024.
“Thanks to the historical experience gained on racing motorcycles, Pirelli develops its road tires range, in accordance with the philosophy: ‘We sell what we race, we race what we sell’. It means to be able to generate avant-garde solutions that are then transferred to tire ranges for the consumer market, ensuring the maximum levels of performance and safety. Speaking of Formula 1, after more than half a century of 13-inch tires, in 2022, the diameter was increased to 18 inches that are more similar to the tires used every day by ordinary motorists; this helps Pirelli to transfer Formula 1 technology onto the road car product. Thanks to this involvement in motorsport, we are also able to provide our top customers premium experiences that are helping us strengthening the relation with them.”
Easing the burden on the environment
Tire production is a burden to the environment and manufacturers make great efforts to reduce that impact. Therefore, sustainability is one of the most important issues for manufacturers. Tommaso Mantegazza emphasizes that Pirelli has been strongly committed to the environmental sustainability of its production processes and products for many years.
“In 2021 Pirelli & C. SpA was confirmed a global leader in the fight against climate change obtaining a position in the Climate A list 2021 of the CDP; this confirms commitment in the area of environmental sustainability, where the company has a target for the reduction of CO₂ emissions validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) with a goal of ‘carbon neutrality’ by 2030, supported by the energy supply target of 100% renewable source electricity at the global level by 2025.”
He adds that Pirelli has also become the first company in the world to produce a range of FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) tires designed for the BMW X5 xDrive45e Plug-in-Hybrid. These tires contain FSC-certified natural rubber and rayon and represent a new horizon for increasingly sustainable tire production. FSC forest management certification confirms that plantations are managed in a way that preserves biological diversity and benefits the lives of local people and workers, while ensuring it sustains economic viability.
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