With a storied legacy in auto racing, Pirelli is one of the world’s most prestigious tire manufacturers. The Italian company is the sixth-largest tire company in the world, selling over 6 billion dollars of tires every year.
The company was founded in 1872 before even the Ford Model T was released. As the industry has evolved, Pirelli has evolved with it, growing into a giant international conglomerate that sells tires and rubber products on a worldwide scale. With a reputation for creating reliable, fuel-efficient, performance-oriented tires, Pirelli is a mainstay in the car world and a solid pick for any tire buyer.
- What Makes Pirelli Different?
- Pirelli Design Features
- A History of Pirelli
- Pirelli in the Tire Industry
- Pirelli and Auto Racing
- Pirelli Corporate Responsibility
- Pirelli’s Best Selling Tires
- All Tire Models: Pirelli Tires
What Makes Pirelli Different?
Along with Lamborghini and Ferrari, Pirelli joins a trifecta of famous Italian auto companies. Pirelli creates tires that sit all along the spectrum, starting with budget all-season offerings for ordinary drivers, but extending all the way to the supercar tires that outfit Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
As with the other Italian companies, Pirelli has an emphasis on artistry and craftsmanship in its products. Car enthusiasts appreciate the tires for their incredible performance along with their aesthetic—some tires come with flashy, colored sidewalls. Their products are truly intended for the most passionate of drivers.
Lineage of Racing Performance
While there are plenty of budget tires on the market that are solely focused on practicality, every Pirelli tire is influenced by handling and performance. Pirelli is a racing-oriented and racing focused company, and many of their buyers are racing enthusiasts. While the company’s tires are still practical and great for daily driving, each and every Pirelli is uncompromising on certain performance characteristics. The company’s culture of high-performance permeates throughout the line, making all of their tires a pleasure to drive.
Diversity of Product Line
For tire buyers looking for a manufacturer with a wide lineup, Pirelli is a great option. If you’re looking for a complete tire ecosystem, Pirelli has one of the most complete product lists of any manufacturer. Starting with racing-oriented tires, Pirelli has a series of P Zero tires, all of which are ready to be installed on any premium car. Their Cinturato series is more of an all-season tire, while still maintaining a sporty sensibility.
This diversity continues into truck and SUV tires, where they add all-terrain tires to the lineup of performance and all-season rubber. Also available are snow, winter, and ice tires, as well as stud capable tires that are equipped for seriously gnarly conditions. If you can drive on it, Pirelli has a tire for it.
Pirelli Design Features
Data shows that Americans are spending more time behind the wheel, and a bigger proportion of that time on the highway. Car tire manufacturers are recognizing this trend and optimizing tires for highway conditions, specifically targeting noise reduction, increased comfort, and fuel efficiency.
The source of the problem for these three issues is the same: the resonation of the tire and the air within it. By putting a proprietary foam on the interior of the tire, Pirelli’s PNCS technology addresses all three of these problems. The foam absorbs vibration, which means less noise is transferred to the cabin, thus making the driving experience more comfortable. The vibration reduction also improves fuel efficiency and comfort.
Seal Inside Technology
Unlike other flat technologies that are designed to just last long enough to change the tire, Pirelli Seal Inside Technology completely fixes the flat. This allows the driver to continue driving even in the case of a normally puncture-causing incident. The way the system functions is via a sticky ‘sealing mastic’ substance that coats the inside of the tire. If the tire is punctured, the pressurized air within the tire pushes the sealing mastic into the hole, sealing the puncture. The technology doesn’t require a tire pressure monitoring system or dedicated rims to function; it works on any car tire and wheel setup.
Something that distinguishes Pirelli from its competitors is the company’s unique approach to rolling resistance. Rolling resistance equates to the amount of force it takes to revolve the wheel, and it can be affected by the tread, the rubber, and even the aerodynamics of the tire. The rolling resistance of a tire can affect fuel efficiency, speed, and even handling. Pirelli spends many research and development dollars to try to achieve the optimal rolling resistance.
Pirelli Run Flat
Pirelli Run Flat technology ensures that you’ll always be able to get home safe, even with a flat tire. The innovation works by making the tire’s sidewalls semi-rigid, which allows the tire to keep most of its shape in the event of a puncture.
This system keeps your car stable and controllable, and even can allow you to continue driving long distances if you aren’t close to home or if you aren’t able to change your tire immediately. If this is the case, Pirelli Run Flat can drive up to 50 miles at a maximum speed of 50 miles per hour until you can get somewhere safe.
Pirelli Warranty Information
Pirelli has fantastic tire mileage warranties, and most of their tires are guaranteed to at least 45,000 miles. The company is home to the industry’s longest mileage warranty, which they offer on the P4 Four Seasons Plus—it’s rated to a whopping 90,000 expected usable miles. You can read a detailed guide to Pirelli’s terms and conditions here.
The only exception to this is Pirelli’s higher-end racing tires. For Pirelli tire models that are performance-oriented, the company utilizes an incredibly soft rubber to aid in traction, turning, and braking performance. The softer rubber performs better, but it is not particularly long-lasting, and thus should be used on an alternate set of race wheels or on a sports car that you only drive occasionally. That being said, though, Pirelli does create plenty of more practical and long-lasting tires.
A History of Pirelli
Pirelli was founded in Milan in 1872, less than a decade after the unification of Italy. Since cars didn’t exist when the company was founded, they first produced various rubber items, starting with parts for horse-drawn carriages and bicycles.
In 1901, the company began to produce auto tires for the first gas-powered vehicles in the world. They were one of the first tire companies to expand, following the momentum of the newly-minted automobile across Europe and into the Americas. By the early 20s, the company was growing stably and listed on the Milan Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the first Italian company to trade on an American stock market.
The company grew tremendously by tapping into the Latin American market, distributing to growing South American cities like Lima, Peru, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 1929 they opened a factory in Brazil, further enabling distribution to the continent.
Here, Pirelli released a model called the ‘Cinturato,’ which is Italian for ‘belt.’ This new design featured a belt material between the tire’s internal carcass and its tread, which improved the durability, performance, and reliability of the tire. This innovation was eventually used by other companies, and it’s the design that most cars use to this day. The improved durability helped Pirelli expand even further in developing markets that conventionally had rougher roads and less developed transportation networks.
In the 1990s, during an Italian recession, Pirelli was restructured and almost bankrupted due to unfavorable market conditions and a failed merger with Continental, a German company. By 1994, the company finished restructuring and began to grow again.
In 2001, Pirelli returned to its roots as an industry innovator and started to invest in process and technology improvements to make better products. By 2010, the company finished its transition to being a completely tire focused company, focusing on the same products that helped it grow into one of Italy’s biggest companies during the early 1900s.
In recent history, the company has diversified its tire business to other sectors through key strategic acquisitions. The company spends millions of dollars a year on Formula 1 racing, and it has achieved incredible results. Pirelli seems to have put its tumultuous period behind it, and now the company is seeing great success, especially with consumer tires.
Pirelli in the Tire Industry
Most of the top tire companies in the world have been industry titans for decades, and Pirelli is no exception. Pirelli, along with companies like Goodyear and Michelin, grew alongside the automotive industry as a whole to become the multi-billion dollar giants they are today.
Pirelli is unique for the tire industry in a few different ways. Firstly, the company tries to maintain a more elite, culturally aware cachet in the industry. The branding of their products is artful, and the company alludes to the romance and adventure of driving in their promotional strategy. Pirelli is well known among luxury drivers for being a brand of great heritage, and they keep this reputation by maintaining relationships with supercar brands like Ferrari and Lamborghini.
The company has an emphasis on premium products, raking in a big portion of its revenue from sales of high-cost performance tires. Pirelli does sell some budget-oriented tires as well, but in large part, it has built its reputation by creating premium products.
Pirelli and Auto Racing
Pirelli has a long history in motorsport, first participating in organized racing in 1905 and gaining success in the grueling early days of the sport due to their incredibly durable tires.
The founder of the company, Giovanni Batista Pirelli, was one of the first in the industry to realize that tire advancements from racing could be used to develop new insights for tires released on the consumer market. Ever since the early days, Pirelli has used the racetrack to test new products and technologies with the ultimate goal of providing these advancements to consumers.
Pirelli has been participating in Formula 1, one of the world’s most prestigious classes of racing, since the series’ inception in 1950. They debuted the world’s first radial tire here, which gave them an immense advantage in durability. Before radial tires, which use a specific layering strategy of fibers to add strength, structure, and durability to a tire, teams used cross-ply tires, which were harder to control and didn’t last as long. Pirelli’s tires were praised by the industry, and famed Juan Manuel Fangio, a multi-world-championship winning driver, called the tires ‘extraordinary,’ winning multiple championships on their rubber.
This is a direct example of how Pirelli uses innovations in racecar tires to benefit consumers. Although the technology was developed initially to gain a racing advantage, the tires were so effective that they were quickly adapted to consumer markets, and now radial tires are the most common type of passenger tire on earth.
Celebrating the company’s famous motto, “we sell what we race, we race what we sell,” Pirelli has used Superbike racing to advance tire technology. Along with being the race series’ title sponsor, Pirelli’s tires are the only ones that meet the standards necessary to race in the category.
While motorcycle racing is mainly used to help develop Pirelli’s motorcycle tires, advancements in rubber technology and tread design have also trickled from the superbike category to consumer auto.
Pirelli also collaborates with auto-racing teams in the United States, using these demanding races to help refine tire technology that is eventually released for consumer products. They are the title sponsor of the World Challenge, a series of races in stock supercars. This series of American races is somewhat similar to normal road driving, so there are valuable insights to be gained in how their tires perform in these races. Although the racing is much more taxing on equipment than just commuting around town, Pirelli uses the series to learn more about developing long-lasting tires.
Pirelli Corporate Responsibility
Starting in 2004, Pirelli has been a part of the United Nations Global Compact, which is a pledge that corporations take to meet key sustainability commitments. Pirelli views sustainability as something that has to be addressed for all stakeholders at all parts of the supply chain, and the company works on making meaningful environmental change both in the company and in the industry at large.
Because of their commitment to a head-on sustainability approach, the company is looked to across the industry as an environmental leader. Pirelli has adopted internationally recognized ISO and OHSAS standards to monitor its environmental impact, management practices, and greenhouse gas emissions.
As part of greenhouse gas management, Pirelli has been one of many tire manufacturers to shift to more natural rubber as part of its supply chain. The firm has not only embraced this change, but they have also planned their supply chain accordingly, taking detailed steps to plan out a path to sustainable natural rubber and forest management. This allows companies to expand their natural rubber usage without damaging delicate forest and jungle ecosystems.
Pirelli incorporates an ethical code in its whole supply chain, which helps direct everything from sales to the acquisition of materials. The guiding tenet of the code is innovation, which helps direct all of the values that come afterward. For Pirelli, being innovative helps guide principles like sustainability, transparency, and quality. Everything traces back to perpetual improvement and process design.
Pirelli’s Best Selling Tires
The Cinturato Family
The Cinturato line was Pirelli’s first tire to feature a sturdy steel belt for durability. Since then, it has evolved into Pirelli’s environmentally friendly all-season line, although it still has a bit of a sporty vibe. The addition of eco-friendly materials further improves rolling resistance and fuel economy.
- Cinturato P7: The Cinturato P7 is a new high-performance offering targeted at luxury cars. Along with all-season performance, it works well in the wet, offers low rolling resistance, and a long mileage guarantee. It also fits on some crossovers, which makes it a good choice for small SUV owners seeking a performance tire.
- Cinturato All Season: The Cinturato All Season is an all-round practical option, oriented particularly towards city drivers. The all-condition, simple, high-mileage tires offer puncture resistance against the perils of city driving. This tire, being part of the Cinturato family, also offers high gas mileage.
The Scorpion Family
The Scorpion family of tires is a series dedicated exclusively to SUVs and crossovers. With this line, Pirelli tackles car owners of larger vehicles that still value performance among other features. Unlike other tire manufacturers, this series is developed from the ground up for SUVs, as the Scorpion Verde family uses completely proprietary technologies.
- Scorpion Verde All Season: Scorpion Verde tires are environmentally friendly, good gas mileage options for SUVs. The rubber itself is made with earth-friendly materials. While performance is put slightly to the side, safety, braking, and wet-weather traction are all still great.
- Scorpion Zero: With an asymmetrical tread pattern, this SUV-designed rubber has the steering and grip of a sports car tire. High on-road performance is complemented by an aggressive tread that’s capable of light off-road conditions.
The P Zero Family
With a no-holds-barred, no-compromises approach to tire design, the P Zero Family is about one thing: speed. All tire designs are inflexible on speed and performance, and Pirelli is willing to make sacrifices to get there—namely, cost. The designs are race-oriented but still practical for street usage, and most models perform well in the wet and in the dry, although winter is a no-go.
- P Zero Corsa: While the P Zero is technically legal to drive on the road, where it truly thrives is the track. With a lineage easily traced back to Formula One racing, it’s optimized for all hard surfaces, from asphalt to concrete. Traction and braking are a dream, but the price tag is hefty.
- P Zero Nero: This tire is a performance option that fits on larger cars, going after the luxury sedan crowd. It technically holds Pirelli’s grand touring label, which means you get all the benefits of P Zero technology for handling, along with a sturdy warranty.
All Tire Models: Pirelli Tires
Max Performance Summer
Cinturato P7 (W- or Y-Speed Rated)
Cinturato P7 Run Flat (W- or Y-Speed Rated)
Grand Touring All-Season
Standard Touring All-Season
Studless Ice & Snow
Performance Winter and Snow
Winter Snowcontrol Serie 3
Winter Snowcontrol Serie 3 Run Flat
Winter Sottozero 3
Winter Sottozero 3 Run Flat
Winter Sottozero Serie II
Winter Sottozero Serie II Run Flat
Street Driveable Track and Competition
P Zero Corsa (PZC4)
P Zero Corsa System
P Zero Trofeo R
Temporary/Compact Spare Tires
Pirelli Spare Tyre
Light Truck/SUV Tires
Street/Sport Truck Summer
Scorpion Verde Run Flat
Street/Sport Truck All-Season
Crossover and SUV Touring All-Season
Scorpion STR A
On-Road and Offroad All-Terrain
Off-Road Maximum Traction
Light Truck and SUV Performance Winter
Scorpion Ice & Snow
Scorpion Ice & Snow Run Flat
Scorpion Winter Run Flat