What does a hybrid of an ultra-high performance tire and mud-terrain tire look like? Federal Tire North America LLC has the answer — the Xplora MTS. Two years ago Federal considered this a concept tire, but Chairman Jamie Ma says the reaction to the beefy tire with wide, unidirectional grooves was so strong the company is bringing it to market. The Xplora MTS will be available in March in 20-, 22- and 24-inch sizes. In the fourth quarter of 2019 Federal will add 17- and 18-inch sizes. In early to mid-2020 Federal will introduce 26-inch sizes.
“We had private showings at SEMA and received such positive feedback we decided to bring the prototype MTS to market without any changes,” Ma says.
Steve Hutchinson, who is working as an advisor to Federal, says the tire is “as mean as it looks.” The catch is, the tire isn’t meant for off-road duty. It’s marketed for Jeep and lifted light truck enthusiasts. “I’'s for the city dweller that has a high desire for considerable styling.”
The Xplora MTS features:
- v-shaped grooves, which provide tire rigidity and protect against chips and cuts;
- an armor-like appearance, with massive tire blocks that provide steering and traction control for stability, safety and performance;
- wide, unidirectional grooves, which reduce hydroplaning on wet roads, and also provide for added comfort and reduced noise; and
- linear shoulder blocks help with comfort, and improve steering control.
The tire features a new silica compound — it’s not a UHP tire compound, and it’s not a M/T tire compound, Hutchinson says.
Ma says Federal saw an opportunity to serve the consumers who want the looks of the off-road life, while sticking to the pavement. And even though there’s been a flash of M/T tire introductions in recent years, Ma says, “everybody has been very conventional with M/T.” Here's a wrapup of the initial sizes:
35x12.50R20LT 121Q 10PR
35x12.50R22LT 117Q 10PR
37x12.50R22LT 127Q 10PR
37x13.50R22LT 123Q 10PR
40x15.50R22LT 128Q 10PR
35x12.50R24LT 114Q 10PR
37x13.50R24LT 120Q 10PR
38x15.50R24LT 127P 10PR
40x15.50R24LT 128P 10PR
42x15.50R24LT 130Q 8PR
Federal is working to expand its distribution throughout the U.S., and the tire maker is looking to fill in areas of the Midwest and Southeast with additional tire distributors in those regions. Because the company doesn’t have its own warehouses in the U.S., it relies on distributors to buy containers of tires, as well as a few retailers who can purchase containers and then distribute the tires to their own stores.
The Xplora MTS has received design awards from Red Dot, the international product design by the Zenturnm Nordrhein Westfalen in Essen, Germany, and from Good Design, an industrial design program organized annually by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.