Treading a New Path - aftermarketNews

Treading a New Path

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is hoping to make a huge splash with a new high-end line of all-season tires. The Akron, Ohio-based company will roll out its Assurance line this spring with its biggest advertising blitz in more than a decade. Goodyear is counting on the new tires to help deliver a turnaround after four years of disappointing sales.

From Akron Beacon Journal

AKRON, OH — Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is hoping to make a huge splash with a new high-end line of all-season tires.

The Akron, Ohio-based company will roll out its Assurance line this spring with its biggest advertising blitz in more than a decade.

Goodyear is counting on the new tires to help deliver a turnaround after four years of disappointing sales.

But you’ll have to dig deep into your pockets to put the new tires on your car. They will cost about 20 percent more than a typical Goodyear tire, with a price tag of $83 to $137 each. The company plans to introduce the tires to more than 1,000 dealers and distributors in Florida on Friday. Goodyear gave reporters a sneak preview on Wednesday.

The company has huge hopes for Assurance. Officials called the tires “revolutionary,” “bold,” “cutting edge,” “industry-leading” and, of course, “big.”

That’s big as in the biggest, most important product launch for Goodyear since it rolled out the hot-selling Aquatred rain tire in the early 1990s.

“Today is all about the start of something big for Goodyear,” said Jonathan Rich, president of the company’s North American Tire division.

Looking for Excitement

The company said it needs a bold new product to help generate excitement for the Goodyear brand and bring more customers into stores.

Goodyear hasn’t had a home-run product in years, despite launching more than a dozen distinctive types of tires in the past decade.

It hopes the Assurance line will help make a big difference.

The company is launching two tires next month as the first products in the Assurance line.

The more radical looking of the two is the Assurance TripleTred, which Goodyear describes as three tires in one. Each tire has three distinct types of tread for high traction on icy, snowy, wet or dry roads. The center of the tread, called the ice zone, features an unusual compound of rubber, glass fibers and volcanic sand to grip icy roads. Another part of the tread has deeply carved chutes to propel water away from the tire. And a third part of the tread has reinforced rubber to help maneuver around curves and potholes.

Goodyear is marketing the TripleTred to a wide array of popular cars and minivans.

The other tire, called the Assurance ComforTred, is billed as the ultimate all-season radial tire for luxury cars. It features a super-absorbent layer between the tread and the belt to provide more cushioning and a quieter ride than standard tires.

Goodyear said it will spend about $50 million this year to advertise the Assurance line, much of it on television. That’s more than it has spent on any other product launch in more than a decade, including Aquatred.

The company has produced a 30-second television commercial featuring the voice of Patrick Stewart, who played Capt. Jean-Luc Picard on the TV series Start Trek: The Next Generation.

Prominent TV Ads

Goodyear said it plans to run such a heavy dose of commercials that 85 percent of its customer base will see the TV spots about 22 times this year.

“It’s more money than we’ve spent in a long time” on advertising, said Andy Traicoff, general marketing manager for the Goodyear brand.

Goodyear plans to phase out the Aquatred tire this year.

The company declined to reveal sales targets, but said they have high hopes for the tire.

The tires were designed in Akron and will be made at a factory in Lawton, Okla. It took Goodyear about a year to develop the tires. Many new tires take twice that long to develop.

But Goodyear faces stiff competition for sales of premium passenger tires.

Michelin and Firestone also have high-end passenger tires on the road that they say are selling well.

And some analysts say it could take more than one or two new tires to turn around Goodyear’s four-year slump. The company has been watching sales and market share dwindle and has posted losses in eight of its last 12 quarters.

“It would be great if they could come out with a hot-selling product,” said Efraim Levy, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York. “But I don’t see any one product being a panacea…. I think it will take a while for the new tires to catch on and make a difference.”

Some independent tire dealers, however, say they can’t wait to see the Assurance tires. Several said they share Goodyear’s optimism.

“We won’t see the tires for a few more days, but I have not seen dealers this excited about an upcoming product launch in a long time,” said R.P. Flynn, who owns 23 tire stores in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Plenty of Performance

Goodyear engineers said road tests have shown the tires match or outperform the leading all-weather tires on the road today — including the Aquatred and Michelin’s HydroEdge — for noise, handling, vibration and other features.

Michelin officials on Wednesday declined to comment on the Assurance tire, saying they haven’t seen any specifics yet. The company rolled out its HydroEdge, a premium wet-traction passenger tire, last spring with a goal of selling 250,000 of them. Michelin wound up selling 460,000 through December and said sales remain brisk.

“Sales were fabulous,” said Sheryl Henderson, director of the Michelin brand in North America. “We’ve been really happy with it.”

Three years ago, Bridgestone/Firestone rolled out a premium all-season touring tire, the Firestone Affinity LH30, which it said is selling well.

But Goodyear said it is so confident that consumers will be satisfied with its Assurance tires that it is offering a 30-day money-back guarantee on all purchases. The tires have an 80,000-mile limited warranty — almost double the average tread life of tires 46,000 miles.

“This is an absolutely terrific product,” said Goodyear’s Rich, who said he recently gave the TripleTred a road test in Akron through seven inches of snow and a half-inch of crusty ice.

“It performed terrifically,” Rich said.

Now it’s up to Goodyear to sell the tire to dealers and motorists, hoping they agree.

Copyright 2004 Akron Beacon Journal. All Rights Reserved.

_______________________________________

Click here to view the rest of today’s headlines.

You May Also Like

NexaMotion Group Expands Product Offering in Fort Worth, Texas

General repair product lines are now available at Transtar’s branch in Fort Worth, Texas, in addition to transmission and driveline-related products.

Transtar Industries, a NexaMotion Group (NMG) company, announced a new location that will carry an extended product offering.

General repair product lines are now available at Transtar’s branch in Fort Worth, Texas, in addition to transmission and driveline-related products. This development follows a similar expansion at four other Transtar locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas, the company said..

Snap-on Approved for Direct Access to Nissan Secured Gateway Vehicles 

The ability to work with Nissan secure systems is available on Snap-on Wi-Fi enabled products operating the latest software. 

Nissan Secured Gateway Vehicles 
Solero Technologies to Acquire Kendrion’s Automotive Business

The acquisition would expand Solero’s presence with the addition of five European plants located in the Czech Republic, Germany and Romania, as well as one plant in the U.S.

Solero Technologies to Acquire Kendrion's Automotive Business
FCS Introduces 16 New Numbers in April

The new numbers cover many popular applications, including the Jeep Compass, Lexus GX470, Mazda 3, Nissan Armada, Ram 1500 and more.

FCS Introduces 16 New Numbers in April
US Motor Works, LLC Releases New Fuel Pumps

The latest release includes coverage for Toyota and Mazda applications.

Other Posts

MAHLE Awarded Thermal Management Module Contracts

The total order volume across both projects is just under €1.5 billion.

MAHLE Thermal Management Modules
Dill Air Controls Acquires Exactra, Inc.

“The expertise and equipment from Exactra’s many years of experience in the industry are critical to our continued growth,” said Brian Rigney, Dill president.

Dill Air Controls Acquires Exactra Inc.
Philips Announces Xperion 6000 LED Under Hood Work Light

It features a motion detection switch that allows mechanics to turn the light on and off with a wave of their hand.

Stoneridge Releases Inaugural Sustainability Report

The report highlights the company’s progress on Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives.

Stoneridge Releases Inaugural Sustainability Report