Apollo Vredestein screens Snowtrac 5
The hottest tire in the Vredestein lineup is the Snowtrac 5. It’s new, it’s superior to its predecessors, and it meets European and North American winter tire standards for performance.
Will it be available for the upcoming winter season in North America? No and yes, according to Emil Herbak, general manager of Apollo Vredestein Tires Inc.
“No, because Vredestein tire dealers want to receive pre-orders in August and September. Most Snowtrac 5 sizes won’t be available from the factory until the end of September. The ETA (estimated time of arrival) for the tire in the United States and Canada is the end of October.”
The tire still could be available for a severe winter that drags on like it did last season. Confident in the supply and abilities of the Snowtrac 3, however, Herbak says dealers shouldn’t count on the Snowtrac 5 until the 2015-2016 winter season.
Snowtrac, the next generation
The Snowtrac 5 was developed based on European label values (see sidebar). Compared to the previous generation Snowtrac 3, it has lower rolling resistance, thanks in part to its full silica compound; better wet grip; and a decreased noise level. The sipes of the Snowtrac 5 not only vary in shape and depth, but also “have been placed in various directions,” according to the company. In addition, the total length of the deep sipes has been increased by nearly 30% compared to the Snowtrac 3. The result is optimal balance between the sipes in the lateral and longitudinal direction, which leads to traction and grip in bends on wet surfaces, snow and ice.
The lateral and longitudinal grooves include many surfaces of varying sizes. This innovative “Stealth Technology” allows the tread and its unique surface distribution to absorb tire sound, resulting in “extremely low interior noise.”
Although a dedicated winter tire (it features the Mountain Snowflake symbol), the Snowtrac 5 also was designed to have excellent traction on wet and dry roads. When it is ready to launch, the tire will be available in 17 sizes, broken out as follows:
• three 14-inch, ranging from 165/70R14 81T to 185/65R14 86T;
• nine 15-inch, ranging from 175/65R15 84T to 195/50R15 82H;
• five 16-inch, ranging from 205/60R16 96H 195/45R16 84H XL.
Herbak says the tire will compete against other dedicated winter tires such as the Bridgestone Blizzak, Pirelli Winter SnowControl and Goodyear UltraGrip 7+ in the 14- to 16-inch size range.
The Vredestein Quatrac 5 is the latest evolution in the company’s all-season tire line, which began more than 20 years ago with the Quatrac.
Its asymmetric tread and shoulder design features unique summer and winter sides. The summer side, with its reduced air ratio, “ensures excellent handling and superior steering precision on dry and wet surfaces,” says the company. The winter side, with its advanced sipe technology, “ensures grip on snow and ice.” The Quatrac 5 also has the Mountain Snowflake symbol stamped on its sidewall.
Peter Snel, chief passenger vehicle research and development manager for Apollo Vredestein, says the tire’s design compromises on the side of its winter characteristics. The tire also has “extremely low rolling resistance,” which qualifies the tire as green under European Union tire labeling requirements, and low exterior noise levels.
The Quatrac 5 will be available in 12 15- to 17-inch sizes. later this year. ■
European tire labeling
European Union labeling regulations require each tire be rated for rolling resistance, wet traction and external noise level.
Fuel consumption and wet grip are rated A to G, with “A” signifying the “best” tire. All the grades, however, meet minimum EU parameters.
Noise levels are comparable in two ways: in the number of illustrated black waves (from one to three, with one being the lowest noise level) and in actual decibels (dB).
However, the grades “do not cover all aspects related to the overall performance of a tire,“ according to the European Commission.
To date, only the 205/55R16 size of the new Snowtrac 5 has been graded by Apollo Vredestein B.V. The grades are “E” for rolling resistance, “C” for wet grip, and one wave/ 69 dB for noise level.