Innovation in the automotive industry is not limited to sharp exteriors or what engine is running under the hood - true innovation permeates every aspect of a car's design, from its sunroof to its tires, experts at Dubai International Motor Show 2017 noted.
"Innovation is the law for us," says Carlos Milani, managing director at Pirelli for the Middle East and India. "It is the basis of everything that we do."
"Being partners with such big brands obliges us to innovate. Our engineers work with them continuously, and often years in advance on different design elements. At any given point in time, we will be planning and programme for a car that might be launched four years into the future," Milani told Khaleej Times.
Engines today are becoming more powerful, he said, which means that companies have to constantly be at the top of their game. Sports cars, in particular, are breaking new speed records every day, and tires are a big component of their success on the race circuit.
"The Middle East is such a small region, but its presence on the international map is undisputed, with two F1 race tracks in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. It's a fantastic thing, and the interest in the segment has only been growing," Milani said.
Asked if the current slowdown in the auto market had impacted the tyre industry, he said: "Luckily, the tyre industry is one of the most resilient ones out there."
"This is because even if drivers don't change their cars, they still have to change their tyres after a certain period of time for safety reasons. I always joke that crisis or no crisis, you always find traffic going to work in the morning."
Growth in demand for tyres in the region had slowed down, but had not stopped completely, he said. "We see a stability in the next year and a half, and then a pickup in the market."
Speaking about the different markets in the region, he said that Saudi Arabia was definitely the largest market. The UAE market, however, is the most "special" he said. "You have supercars of every kind in the UAE market, as well as the latest concept cars. It is a market that is very dear and important to us."