Kumho Tire USA Inc. is taking aim at the growing mud-terrain light truck tire segment with its new Road Venture MT71. The company introduced the tire to its dealers last month during a ride-and-drive event near Moab, Utah.
“The Road Venture MT71 will be a cornerstone product for us,” says Shawn Denlein, Kumho’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.
Kumho officials believe the tire will provide “Tier 1 performance at a great price.”
The Road Venture MT71 will hit the market in January 2020. It has been in development for nearly two years, according to Ali Aljibouri, founder of Volk Wolf Dynamics, a tire testing services provider that helped evaluate the Road Venture MT71 before its introduction.
The tire will be available in 27 sizes that combined will cover 83% of the mud-terrain segment. It was designed “using multiple sizes and multiple specs on multiple platforms across the world,” says Aljibouri. “Most tire companies pick one size and one type of vehicle” when formulating new products.
Kumho says the Road Venture MT71 features an aggressive tread design for enhanced climbing performance and off-road traction, enhanced durability with extra cut and chip resistance, and “exceptional off-road performance with excellent highway safety and stability.”Specifically, the Road Venture MT71 contains seven integrated steel and fabric layers; three-ply, high-strength construction; two steel cord layers “as used in commercial tire applications”; and two nylon protection plies that together “add up to one of the most robust mud-terrain tires out there.”
During pre-launch testing, the product scored well in slick rock traction, forward traction, front path stability, “side-bite” ability, side slope traction and a wide range of additional performance dynamics, demonstrating “severe off-road capability,” says Aljibouri.
“The Road Venture MT71’s footprint is pretty unique. Managing that contact patch with the stiffness of the rubber is a fine art.”
Kumho also focused on aesthetics when designing the tire. Aljibouri says the Road Venture MT71’s aggressive sidewall styling is intended to appeal to light truck owners who place a premium on appearance.
PICKING UP MOMENTUM
Most mud-terrain tire customers “are less focused on mileage and more focused on looks,” confirms Sako Batanian, one of several Kumho dealers and distributors who put the Road Venture MT71 through the paces during an off-road excursion outside of Moab.
Batanian, who owns King’s Tire & Wheel, a two-location dealership based in El Monte, Calif., calls mud-terrain “the new all-terrain.”The segment had been picking up momentum in his market “and began to explode in 2015 and 2016,” he says. “It’s become a whole different animal. The more mud-terrain tires I stock, the more I sell.”
He predicts the Road Venture MT71 will be a big mover for his dealership. “With this product, consumers will get a well-rounded tire at a price point that is a happy medium.”
Kym Fletcher, sales manager for Hesselbein Tire in San Antonio, Texas, also says the mud-terrain segment has taken off in recent years, especially in his home state.
He sells “an unusually high amount of mud-terrain tires,” both to off-road enthusiasts and what he calls “mall-crawlers” who never go off-road and “are only concerned with a tire’s looks. That’s where the Road Venture MT71’s appearance will come into play.”
Fletcher believes the tire should be positioned in the “high Tier 2 range. If you position it too low, dealers and customers won’t see the value.” ■