Budgeting Around the 2021 Rubber Shortage

As if we don’t have enough to worry about in 2021, the mobility industry is contending with the reality that rubber supplies are dwindling to an alarming number. Referred to as the “Rubber Apocalypse” by more dramatic news headlines, the need for rubber to fuel an increase in safety gloves during the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a less-than-favorable seasonal crop, has made mobility experts worry about the availability of materials like tires, O-rings, and drive belts.

It’s understandable that fleet specialists everywhere have concerns about planning around tires, especially as the winter nears and fleets are looking into weather-worthy tires for the season. But now is not the time to panic.

The first step is assessing what it is you really need for the season. Take a look at your tire storage to see what your inventory currently looks like, and use your data history to understand what your driver behavior could be in 2021-22.

From there, it’s time to tap your resources. Get in touch with your suppliers– or work with your ARI specialist to connect with our entire network of North American suppliers– to see what is out there. You may be surprised to see just what the right connections can mean for the year ahead.

Still, now may not be the time to invest in an all-weather tire solution or winter tires for the whole fleet, but there are options available outside of purchasing full winter tires. Consider non-rubber solutions, including the following:

Tire Chains

Tire chains are an affordable option that provide support on long trips with slippery conditions. They are known for being difficult to attach to the tire, so professional installation is recommended, but once they are on they work great in winter weather, and should be removed once roads are clear.

Snow Socks

These are much easier for a driver to slip on than a tire chain, but are a more temporary solution for slower driving and shorter trips.

Spider Spikes

Spikes are similar to a tire chain but with less repeat installation hassle. They clip onto a device fitted around-the-clock onto the hubcap, then store in the trunk and snap into place when needed. They’re a great option for decentralized drivers, but are a more costly solution and must be purchased with that consideration.

Snow Straps

Made of plastic, these small fittings store well in the trunk, then can be easily attached and driven on for a long time. Since they are plastic, they have a shorter usable life than tire chains, and can be difficult for a driver to install on-the-go.

No matter what option you go with, it’s important to connect with fleet professionals to understand what your fleet can work with. Some tire solutions work better in different regions and do well with specific jobs, while other options may not even be legal in various areas. Remain proactive and start today to better understand:

  • What snow options are compatible with my job
  • What choices are permitted in my municipality
  • The process for ordering and installing snow alternatives

Using your own data and driving history, ARI can work with you to build a vehicle schedule that works with the season and tire shortage. You can understand just how many vehicles you need out in inclement weather, to build a proactive seasonal schedule that reduces stress on your entire fleet and promotes a more manageable winter approach.

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