Tenneco Inc. has added 24 part numbers for 13 domestic and 44 import applications to its Monroe Quick-Strut line of premium replacement strut assemblies.
Winter tire sales are weather dependent, and that means back-to-back lackluster winter seasons are leaving tire dealers, and tire manufacturers, wanting more.
“Warmer weather results in fewer conversations between dealers and drivers about winter tires, which means fewer selling opportunities,” says Hans Dyhrman, director of marketing for Nokian Tires Inc.
TBC Brands LLC is one company hoping for a turnaround for the 2017-2018 season, as its Sumitomo brand enters the winter tire market for the first time.
“Winter tires are a niche within the global tire industry, but there is still room for growth within the market, as they accounted for $19.3 billion in worldwide tire sales,” says Jon Vance, vice president of product marketing for TBC Brands.
“Some have projected sales to continue to grow despite the modest price increase in raw materials.”
Others aren’t as optimistic. Travis Roffler, director of marketing for Continental Tire the Americas LLC says, “We don’t see it growing.” He estimates the market accounts for 6 million to 8 million tires in the U.S.
Pirelli Tire North America Inc. says the winter tire market was down in 2016, while Nexen Tire America Inc. calls it flat.
He attributes that to a pair of factors. “First, tire dealers are increasingly timid in advising drivers about the need for a winter tire that goes beyond snow and ice traction. Second, the performance of all-season tires has been improving, making them legitimately more suitable for the moderate weather climates across the center of the country,” Mathis says.
“It remains our opinion that the safest and best performing tire for cold weather environments is a true winter tire. Anything else is a compromise in both safety and performance.”
Brandon Stotsenburg, vice president of automotive for American Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd., says government regulations in Canada have driven growth in the winter tire market there, whereas “the U.S. market has been relatively flat with predictable sales in key Snowbelt areas.”
The bright side of the equation, says Dyhrman from Nokian, is “the launch of new products and technologies provide new opportunities for dealers to discuss and educate the importance of winter tires with customers.”
Some companies aren’t quite ready to dish out the details on the new winter tires yet to come in 2017. Look for a new product from Falken Tire Corp. later this year.
Here are the winter tires manufacturers will be selling and marketing next season.
Atturo Tire Corp.: This year will be Atturo’s first full season of winter production with 21 sizes in the AW730 and AW730 ICE. With an optimized combination of silica based compound, tread design and the tuned winter sipes, the AW730 presents a tremendous value in cold weather safety, performance and handling. The size range will focus on SUVs and crossovers offering a mix of common and unique sizes.
Continental Tire the Americas LLC: The Continental brand features the WinterContact SI, with patented PolarPlus+ technology for grip. That same technology reduces braking distance in wet, snow and ice by keeping the tread pliable in sub-zero temperatures. Continental’s +Silane also enhances grip on slippery surfaces like wet-, snow- and ice-covered roads. Traction grooves and increased pattern edges provide improved snow performance while the consumer friendly Alignment Verification System visually alerts the driver to vehicle misalignment allowing a correction before the tires are ruined. The General brand by Continental includes the Grabber Arctic and the Grabber Arctic LT, and both feature a symmetric, studdable tread pattern with a durable compound and Duragen technology for stability and even wear, among other qualities.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.: In 2017, the Dunlop Winter Maxx line will feature a new improved tread design with broader contact area and increased siping with the Winter Maxx 02 line.
This new improved line builds on the strong performance of this studless Winter Maxx line and is available in sizes for a broad range of passenger vehicles and CUVs. It complements the Winter Maxx SJ8 line launched in 2015.
The dedicated winter tire is constructed out of a high-grip silica compound featuring a unique asymmetrical tire pattern for optimized driving in all winter conditions. The lateral ice pick-shaped grooves on the tire have a scratching effect on the road, and when coupled with a wider shoulder block, the Winter i*cept evo2 tire provides superior handling and performance compared to conventional tires.
Small ice grip slits are incorporated into the lateral block design for enhanced cornering performance, increasing flexibility and providing an optimized contact area. The tire’s jointless full-cover reinforced belt improves the tire’s high-speed stability and maximizes road contact for improved handling. The product is designed to exhibit excellent braking power and handling on snow or ice-covered roads, ensuring a safer driving experience in the winter.
Both tires master cold weather performance for consumers who battle severe winter conditions. Technology includes a special Flex-Ice tread compound that remains flexible in extreme cold temperatures along with Micro Pump and Cross Z sipe technology that generate gripping traction and stability on ice and snow. The tires also feature unique Max Touch Construction that equalizes the forces within the contact patch from normal braking, acceleration and cornering. Michelin provides a unique mileage warranty for both winter products for consumers.
Nexen Tire America Inc.: Winguard Winspike tires are constructed to allow studs that dig into snow or ice for better traction. The optimized arrangement of sipes and block rigidity maximize handling and traction on ice in combination with the V-shaped tread pattern.
Nokian Tyres Inc.: The new generation of Nokian’s flagship product will be available this fall — the Hakkapeliitta 9 and Hakkapeliitta 9 SUV. They feature two designs of studs on the tire for use during specific driving conditions, such as braking or accelerating and cornering, ensuring optimal traction in all winter conditions.
The tire utilizes a brand new tread pattern, tire structure and eco-friendly winter tread compound, plus self-locking 3D sipes for steering responsiveness and improved handling. Boosters provide improved snow grip and Nokian’s patented driving safety indicator shows remaining tread to consumers. The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 covers 52 sizes from 14 to 20 inches. The Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 SUV comes in 51 sizes from 16 to 21 inches.
Omni United (S) Pte. Ltd.: The RW 5 is a snow and ice tire from the Radar winter family. This range has been designed for compact and mid-size cars as well as SUVs. It delivers good grip in wet, snow and slush conditions, which the company says makes it a good pick for balanced performance in all winter conditions.
Pirelli Tire North America Inc.: The result of its developments with original equipment manufacturers, the Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 is a tire dedicated to high-end premium vehicles.
Pirelli designs tires to enhance the features of each vehicle model and maximize its performance. The Pirelli Winter Sottozero 3 has been developed taking into account the evolution of modern vehicles, in order to achieve maximum safety, control and performance in all winter conditions. The product is available with the latest Pirelli technologies including run on flat, the noise canceling system and seal inside.
Pirelli’s winter lineup also includes the Scorpion winter tire, designed for SUVs and CUVs.
Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.: Designed for tough winter conditions, the Observe G3-Ice from Toyo combines performance with driving comfort. It is available to order in more than 120 SKUs ranging from 13 inches to 22 inches with fitments for passenger cars, CUVs, SUVs and light trucks.
Features include Toyo’s exclusive microbit technology, which uses ground walnut shells to dig and bite into snow and ice for better traction.
For areas that experience severe winters, the Observe G3-Ice can be studded for added traction on ice and compacted snow. Optimized stud hole placement delivers better traction and a quieter ride with fewer studs.
The new BluEarth Winter V905 features a more fuel efficient orange oil and silica compound for low temperature flexibility without sacrificing higher temperature stability or gas mileage.
It also features a blend of triple 3D adaptive sipes and 2D sipes for maximized contact patch rigidity and optimal grip. Pick me! Pick me!
Choosing between the tires offered by these 14 companies is another challenge to your inventory management. So we asked the manufacturers to pick one trait that makes their winter tire your best choice.
Atturo: The major distinguishing characteristic of the AW730 is our goal to create a product where dealers can actually earn a profit. The targeted sizes and aggressive price points will yield an outsized margin for the savvy Atturo dealer.
The multi-cell compound from Bridgestone uses millions of microscopic pores to attract and remove the thin layer of water from the surface of ice, delivering enhanced grip. It also combats slippage and improves braking.
Continental: The highlight of the WinterContact SI is its PolarPlus+ technology. As for the General Grabber Arctic, the tire offers both comfort and durability. The Grabber Arctic LT is designed to carry the load.
Giti: “One highlight that makes the GT Radial Champiro WinterPro HP a good choice for dealers is that it comes in the higher H and V speed ratings and performance sizes needed for today’s newer performance sedans and coupes,” says Thomas Okihisa, senior product marketing manager for Giti Tire USA.
Hankook: In addition to its driving performance, the Winter i*cept evo2 offers drivers the options of 44 sizes, ensuring consumers have access to the right size tire for their needs.
Michelin: The X-Ice product lines offer large market coverage with a winter tire that is long lasting and backed by a mileage warranty to provide lasting winter performance season after season.
Nexen: The Winguard Winspike covers a huge range of sizes and fitments, from passenger sedans, CUVs and SUVs, light trucks and even European delivery vans like the Ford Transit.
Nokian: So many innovative technologies working together, from rubber compound to tread pattern, is what makes the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 a great choice for dealers. It’s a completely new take on the studded tire and will be the first tire to feature the functional stud concept. The selling point is that the Nokian Hakkapeliitta 9 goes where you expect it to go even in wintry conditions. Not to mention, Nokian’s 80-plus years of experience developing winter tires gives the brand credibility when selling to the consumer.
The Dimax 4 Season tire offers winter performance with run-flat tire options for cars and SUVs, plus speed ratings up to W.
Pirelli: The Sottozero 3 stands out thanks to the huge number of homologations — more than 150. It does the work of more than one tire with fitments on premium and prestige car brands like Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren, Mercedes, Mini, Porsche, Rolls-Royce, Volkswagen and Volvo. The Scorpion winter tire is following behind closely, with more than 90 fitments on luxury CUVs and SUVs.
TBC: In addition to outstanding warranty protection, the Ice Edge from Sumitomo compliments with competitive pricing, and the ability to deliver optimum winter performance with or without studs.
Toyo: What makes the Observe G3-Ice stand out from the competition is the extensive size lineup. This studdable winter tire is available to order in over 120 SKUs ranging from 13 inches to 22 inches with fitments for passenger cars, CUVs, SUVs and light trucks.
Two brands focus on the Canadian market
For the Kumho and BFGoodrich brands, the focus is on the winter tire market north of the border. Kumho Tire Canada Inc. introduced two new winter tires to its lineup a year ago — the WinterCraft WP71 and the WinterCraft SUV Ice WS31. Those additions are part of a portfolio of seven winter tires from Kumho, plus two more products that are winter rated and promoted for year-round use.
The WinterCraft SUV Ice WS31 is a studdable tire for SUV fitments. It features an optimal stud arrangement in a 20-line stud hole array, and uses the latest compound mixing technology to ensure maximum ice control performance. The asymmetrical sipes provide improved traction and braking performance on ice and snow.
The T/A KSI tire is designed for passenger cars and CUVS, and comes with a T speed rating. Deliveries will begin in August. Look for a report from the tire’s launch in the April edition of Modern Tire Dealer.
A tire destined for the worst of winter weather
Nokian Tyres plc has created a super-sized new tire for the toughest winter conditions on the planet. It bears the company’s flagship product name, but the Hakkapeliitta 44 is much bigger than anything else in the winter tire lineup.
The midsection of the tread pattern features sharp V-shaped angles, which were designed to help clean the grooves of slush and snow. The tread’s width and the tire’s maximal airspace ensure it can handle soft surfaces. It features a special Nokian Polar Expedition tread compound that combines winter grip with durability in extreme winter conditions.
According to data compiled by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), six states had no restrictions on the use of metal-studded snow tires for passenger cars as of October 2016. They are Colorado, Kentucky, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Vermont and Wyoming.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia prohibit metal-studded snow tires entirely: Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Texas and Wisconsin.
Maryland allows metal-studded snow tires in five counties only. Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Rhode Island and Texas prohibit metal studs but allow rubber studs. In Georgia, metal-studded snow tires can only be used in snow and ice conditions. North Carolina and South Carolina allow metal studs “if not projected more than 1/16 inch when compressed.”
Tenneco Inc. has added 24 part numbers for 13 domestic and 44 import applications to its Monroe Quick-Strut line of premium replacement strut assemblies.
Three years ago, Uniroyal dealers told Michelin North America Inc. the Uniroyal brand needed to be strengthened and refreshed. Based on the feedback, Michelin started a series of initiatives that have come to fruition this year.
Bridgestone Corp. posted net sales of 1.77 trillion yen for the first six months of 2018. That compares to sales of 1.74 trillion yen for the same period in fiscal 2017.
Hankook Tire Corp. Ltd. posted net sales of 1.7 trillion won for the second quarter ended June 30, 2018. That compares to sales of 1.66 trillion won for the same period in fiscal 2017.
Versatile Credit Inc. has added the EasyPay Finance option to its list of platform offerings. The "second look" option focuses on offering financing solutions to the automotive market.
Pirelli & Cie SpA has found a way to compete in the 36th America's Cup. Pirelli and Prada SpA will co-sponsor the Luna Rossa Challenge team in the sailing competition.
Bridgestone Americas Inc. has named Joseph Saoud president ot Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations Latin America.
Our recent discussions with dealers leave us with a view that sell-out trends improved in May versus the prior year’s period, re-accelerating from year-over-year contractions early in the year. While always somewhat subjective, we note commentary from installers was at the highest level since October 2017. From a volume standpoint, surveyed dealers reported they saw unit sales volumes up nearly 2% relative to the previous year’s period.
With the recent combination of private equity-owned Mavis Tire Supply Corp. and Express Oil Change & Tire Engineers (Express Oil Change LLC), it’s a good time for tire dealers to understand how private equity plays the acquisition game differently than strategic acquirers like Monro Inc.
Success in its Tire Business unit partially offset overall decreases in Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd.'s sales and operating income in the first half of fiscal 2018.
Tire dealerships on the 2018 Modern Tire Dealer 100 have found a way to battle online tire sales, shrinking tire margins and a tight labor market: by investing in brick-and-mortar locations.
Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. reported net income of 17.8 billion yen on net sales of 309.7 billion yen for the half year ended June 30, 2018. That compares to income of 15.0 billion yen on sales of 304.2 billion yen for the first half of 2016.
American Tire Distributors Inc. (ATD) has launched a $1 million ad campaign highlighting the work of its Tire Pros franchisees. The message is hassle-free customer service.
Auto Profit Masters LLC (APM) has introduced a cloud-based shop management system called Shop 4D that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to run repair shops.
Mitchell International Inc. and General Motors Corp. have jointly launched the enrollment portal for the GM Collison Repair Network. As of Aug. 8, 2018, any collision repair facility in the U.S. may apply for inclusion in the network.