In 1872 Giovanni Battista Pirelli, a young engineer, founded Pirelli & C. in Milan at the age of twenty-four. A year later, the first facility for the production of rubber articles was up and running.
Toward the end of the century the process of diversification began: from insulated telegraph cable (1879) to underwater telegraph cable (1886) to the first bicycle tyres (1890). The first automobile tyre came off the line in 1901. With the new century, Pirelli began enjoying its first sporting victories and building plants abroad: in Spain (1902), Great Britain (1914) and Argentina (1917).
In the '20s, drivers such as Nuvolari, Ascari and Fangio gave a series of brilliant car victories to Pirelli tyres. In 1927 the Superflex Stella Bianca racing tyre was introduced.
The beginning of the 1950s saw the birth of the Cinturato radial, which would leave a decisive mark in the history of tyres. In the meantime, Pirelli continued with its massive geographical expansion, which proceeded through the '60s and '70s, acquiring the German tyre manufacturer Veith, while starting up cable production facilities in Perù (1968) and Australia (1975). In the mid-'70s Pirelli invented the low profile tyre, the famous P7, one of the most important inventions in the industry after the Cinturato radial. Another discovery revolutionised the world of cables: fibre optics.
During the 1980s Pirelli acquired the German motorcycle tyre maker Metzeler and Standard Telephone Cable, manufacturer of telecommunications land cable.
After a company-wide restructuring in 1992-93, Pirelli implemented an international relaunch, and in 1994 presented the Pirelli P Zero ultra-low profile tread, used for the most prestigious tyre models.
In recent years, Pirelli Cables & Systems has reinforced its position of primacy in the energy field with the acquisitions of Siemens (1998), Metal Manufactures Ltd and Draka Holding (1999).
The new millennium saw yet another revolution in the tyre sector: the MIRS™ production system, introduced in 2000, for the automated fabrication of high-performance tyres.
While MIRS™ "mini-factories" were built in Germany, Great Britain, the United States, extending also to motorcycle tyre production, in 2002 the Bicocca pilot plant in Milan began operating its futuristic CCM (Continuous Compound Mixing) system.
2001 saw the opening of Pirelli Labs, the cutting-edge development division for the Group's new technologies, from photonics and fibre optics to material sciences.
As for real estate, after a decade of steady growth that made Pirelli the most important player in the Italian real estate panorama, Pirelli RE went public in 2002.
In 2004 the core business of the Group expanded to include new activities in the fields of broadband access and photonics (Pirelli Broadband Solutions), as well as those regarding the environment and renewable energy sources (Pirelli Ambiente Holding).
In 2005 the Group sold its Cables and Energy and Telecommunications Systems business to Goldman Sachs, with the new company taking the name of Prymsian. Also in 2005, Pirelli opened its first tyre production plant in China, in the province of Shandong later to become the Group's production hub. In the same year a production plant of steel-cord for tyres was opened in Romania.
2006: Pirelli opened its first tyre production plant in Romania.
2007 saw an increased presence of Pirelli in China. In the Chinese production plant as well as the production of tyres for HGVs, tyres for cars began to be produced.
During the year, the Group's holding in Olimpia was sold off.
2008: the Group continued expanding its production. Pirelli and Russian Technology signed an agreement for a joint venture to start tyre production in Russia, in the region of Samara.
In 2009 a new plant was opened in Romania for the production of anti-particulate filters: an agreement for the manufacture of filters in China too was signed with the Chinese group Hixy.
In spring 2010 the Pirelli Foundation was officially opened at the Bicocca in Milan, www.fondazionepirelli.org, through which the Group aims to valorise the company's historic archive and develop its business philosophy.
2010 marked the return of Pirelli to Formula 1, when the exclusive contract to supply tyres for the 2011-2013 World Championships was awarded.
2010 also saw Pirelli focus on the core business of tyres, and the Premium segment in particular, the high and very high range of tyres in which the group already holds a position of leadership. As part of this focus, the transformation into a "pure tyre company" concluded in the year with the sale of Pirelli Broadband Solutions and the spin-off of the real estate business, Pirelli Re, now called Prelios. The construction of the first factory in Mexico was also announced. Production is expected to start in 2012 and will be destined principally for the NAFTA market.
2011: Pirelli is confirmed as the exclusive supplier of tyres for the World Superbike Championship until 2015.
On 29 March 2011, Pirelli presented the Cinturato P1, the high-tech “green” tyre designed for small and mid-sized vehicles, which provides lower fuel consumption, respect for the environment, and high performance on all surfaces.
On 5 July 2011, in order to strengthen its business in China, Pirelli acquired a 15% stake in Pirelli Tyre Co. Ltd. from a minority shareholder, bringing Pirelli’s total stake in the company to 90%, up from the previous 75%.
On 30 August 2011, Pirelli inaugurated the expanded tyre manufacturing facilities in Slatina, Romania.
On 8 September 2011, Pirelli presented PZero Silver, the first road tyre to be derived from the company’s experience in Formula 1™.
On 20 September 2011, the company inaugurated the first Pirelli PZero flagship store, “Pirelli Corso Venezia”, in Milan.
On 8 November 2011, the board of directors of Pirelli & C. S.p.A. approved the Industrial Plan, including an outlook for 2015 and updated targets for 2012-2014. Pirelli’s goal is to become the world leader in the premium segment by 2015, continuing with the strategic focus that began in 2010.
In January 2012, Pirelli hosted the first international conference dedicated to sustainability and road safety.
On this page, you can find out all about Pirelli, its history and its international industrial heritage.