The new BFGoodrich Winter T/A KSI from Michelin North America Inc. is designed for passenger and crossover utility vehicles (CUVs) in the Canadian market.
The BFG Winter T/A KSI replaces the brand’s Winter Slalom KSI tire in Canada. In the U.S., the Winter Slalom KSI is being phased out, according to Kevin Reim, BFGoodrich global product category manager for passenger products.
“We are evaluating the BFGoodrich Winter T/A KSI for the U.S. market, but we do not have a definitive timeline. Our focus has been on the Canadian market first as we know how important the winter category is here,” Reim told Modern Tire Dealer at a launch event for dealers and media in Ottawa, Canada, last month.
“We were laser-focused on meeting the snow tire season with this launch for Canada. We want to have a great supply for our Canadian BFGoodrich dealers. We will begin to evaluate the opportunity in the U.S. after we have successfully completed our Canadian launch,” Reim said.
The bulk of the Winter T/A KSI line is launching now in 32 T-rated sizes for 14- to 18-inch rim diameters, which will cover 66% of the winter tire sizes in the Canadian market. Six more sizes, all T-rated, will be added in August 2018.
Once the full line is released, the Winter T/A KSI will be available in 38 sizes covering 77% of the market, which will be 13% more than the predecessor tire. BFGoodrich dealers in Canada can order the tire now for delivery in August.
Better performance in all conditions
From compound to carcass, the Winter T/A KSI is new compared to its predecessor. The company says the Winter T/A KSI outperforms the Winter Slalom KSI, especially in wet braking and dry handling.Most dedicated winter products perform very well in snow traction; the challenge is managing the other performance areas, according to Reim. “We’ve been able to improve our snow traction slightly along with snow handling. The previous product was very tough to beat there. We’ve made big improvements in ice traction and also in wet braking. If you want to get more wet performance, you’re typically going to have to trade off snow performance and likewise with dry.” Reim says the company applied a combination of technologies to improve performance on wet and dry surfaces as well as on snow and ice. “Not trading off in the dry area is very important because we’ve been able to break some compromises there. So we’re very pleased with where we’ve gone with this product to break compromises and deliver the most value that we can in this category.”
Compared to its predecessor, the Winter T/A KSI’s new compound has more silica to add grip in sub-freezing temperatures while providing stability on warmer winter days. The new tire also features:
- high sipe density to maximize the amount of biting edges for snow and ice grip;
- interlocking three-dimensional sipes that increase stability of shoulder blocks for improved grip on snow and ice as well as on dry surfaces;
- serrated shoulder profile similar to the BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 tire that provides additional grip in deep snow;
- continuous center rib for on-center feel and steering control;
- large circumferential and wide lateral grooves for water and slush evacuation;
- saw-toothed groove edges that add biting edges for grip on snow and ice; and
- casing protectors to prevent stone drilling.
The new BFGoodrich Winter T/A KSI will compete against the Firestone WinterForce, General Altimax Artic, Goodyear Ultra Grip Winter, Hankook iPike RS, Yokohama iceGuard iG52c, and Toyo Observe GSi-5.Consumers expect a winter tire to perform well in slush, snow and ice conditions, according to Sabrina Garofalo, country operations marketing manager for ultra-high performance, off-road and winter tires. However, motorists are driving on ice, snow and slush only about 20% of the time in Canada.
“That means 80% of the time consumers are driving on either dry, wet or damp roads. But that’s not necessarily what they are looking for in a winter tire. However, as a tire manufacturer we feel it is something important to deliver. Our goal is to provide an overall well-balanced tire which hits all winter attributes and also provides the additional benefits.” ■