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High and UHP tire number crunching

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High and UHP tire number crunching

You would be hard-pressed to find a segment of the automotive aftermarket that has had the dramatic, sustained growth of ultra-high performance tires. Would you believe a 947% increase in the United States over the last 20 years?

In 1994, UHP tire shipments, all V- and Z-rated, totaled 3.2 million units domestically. That figure was less than 2% of the replacement passenger tire market. In 2013, UHP shipments, which also included W- and Y-rated tires, totaled 33.5 million units, or 16.6% of the 201.6 million replacement tires shipped.

Comparatively, the high performance segment has grown more than 200%, from 11.2 million units to 34 million. Generally defined as H-rated tires with aspect ratios of 70-series or lower, they have increased in units shipped every year. Not even the UHP segment can match that.

The definitions have remained broad over the years by design, even as the tire segments themselves have evolved. It used to be that V-rated tires were found predominantly on ultra-high performance vehicles. They also used to be classified as summer tires.

Now, the “summer”  designation is more commonly reserved for max and extreme performance tires, two categories in which V ratings are non-existent except in the smaller sizes.

Can you really consider V-rated tires that are fitted as original equipment on a Honda Accord part of the UHP tire market? And as the type of vehicle comes into play in defining UHP tires, shouldn’t the size be taken more into account than just the speed rating?

The answer to both is “yes.” But for comparison purposes, which still give you an accurate snapshot of the UHP and high performance tire segments, we have kept the definitions the same.

To see high and UHP tire market share charts, click here.

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