The origin of Pirelli dates back to 1872, the year Giovanni Battista Pirelli founded a limited partnership, G.B. Pirelli & C., in Milan to produce elastic rubber items.

The company was liquidated though and Pirelli & C. this time with a limited shares partnership was established. In 1873, the first plant to produce rubber items was built in Milano.

A rubber band production line for carriages was later started in 1885 and the first tyre for velocipedes (first form of the bicycle) was launched in 1894 which resulted from a number of innovations in the preparation of materials and manufacture of tyres.

The production of car tyres began in 1901 which was coupled with growth specifically based on two major factors, care for technological development of processes and products and the support of an ongoing commitment in racing along with a strong geographic expansion.

In particular, in the first few years of 1900, Pirelli’s geographic expansion took off with the opening their plants in Barcelona (Spain, 1902), Southampton (England,1903), Buenos Aires (Argentina, 1917), Manresa (Spain, 1924) and Burton on Trent (England, 1928).

The Group strengthened its commitment in racing and in 1907, the first Grand Prix of the Automobile Club of France was won by a car fitted with Pirelli tyres.

Shortly after the 1st World War, the Superflex Stella Bianca, the first and innovative sport tyre, was conceived and launched. Very popular in Italy during the 1930’s, the tyre was fitted with a reinforced tread to avoid damages at high speeds.

In 1949, the Cinturato tyre was started to be considered and then designed, to become the first Pirelli radial tyre marketed from 1953.

The Cinturato’s main feature was a sturdy belt in radial material between the carcass and the tread. It was an innovation compared to the tyres available then on the market, since it provided a remarkably better level of safety, performance and wear.

In 1959, the production of steelcord tyres began. During the Sixties and Seventies, a further step to develop the strategy geared on geographic expansion and technological innovation was made.

Technological developments ensued with the design of the low-profile tyres thanks to the know-how acquired in racing. It met the power requirements for cars produced by the major international car makers.

In the Seventies, a big technology advance was made when Pirelli launched the Cinturato P6, P7 and P8.

In the Eighties, the result of a further commitment in terms of technological innovation was the introduction of the first motorcycle radial tyre.

In the early Nineties, Pirelli was engaged in a demanding corporate and financial reorganization program, following the market recession and the failed acquisition of Continental AG, where considerable economic resources had been invested.

In 2000, Pirelli sold to Cisco their terrestrial systems and to Corning their optical component business, this transaction being worth approximately 5 billion euro. In 2001, Pirelli acquired a share in Telecom Italia S.p.A. through Olympia and became the reference shareholder until 2007.

Based on an on-going technological research effort, Pirelli started in 2001 producing tyres with their MIRS (Modular Integrated Robotized System) technology which was to substantially change Pirelli’s tyre building process.

The CCM-based (Continuous Compound Mixing) technology room was introduced in 2003 to test innovative mixes and materials.
In 2004, a joint venture agreement was signed with Continental AG to produce steelcords in Romania. Through this joint venture Pirelli acquired an 80% control share and a plant in Slatina was built in 2005.

In that same year the Group started building a production plant for their car tyres which was to become operational in April 2006.
The Settimo Torinese industrial plant project took off in 2008. The plant was an integration of two factories and became the most technologically advanced in the entire Group.

Research to develop technologies on tyre energy efficiency also gained momentum, and in 2009 the Cinturato P7 tyre was introduced, the first high-performance tyre based on a “green philosophy”.

In 2010, Pirelli completed its transformation into a “pure tyre company”, through the dismissal of the Pirelli Broadband Solutions business and spin-off of Pirelli & C. Real Estate.

In the same year, after its setting up in 2009, the Pirelli Foundation was established to safeguard, protect and enhance Pirelli’s historical heritage as well as promoting entrepreneurial culture as an integral part of Italy’s cultural heritage.

After 19 years, Pirelli made a return in June 2010 to the Formula 1 championship, and became the exclusive tyre supplier since 2011.

Pirelli had also been the exclusive tyre supplier for the Superbike World Championship since 2004 as well as of prestigious single-brand championships, like the Ferrari Challenge of which used to be supplier since its inception a quarter of a century ago.

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