In the Spotlight: Pirelli and TBC Stand Out at MATS 2016
There were fewer Freightliner, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Volvo, Mack and International trucks at the Mid-America Trucking Show this year because all the Class 8 original equipment truck manufacturers declined to attend. But tire manufacturers and marketers did their best to make up the difference in floor space.
Michelin North America Inc. showcased Uniroyal medium truck tires for the first time. Tires introduced earlier this year by Bridgestone Corp., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and Hankook Tire America Corp. also were on display.
As has been the trend at tire shows the last few years, Asian tire importers had a significant presence at the Louisville, Ky., trade show. One of them, Statewide Tires Inc., featured the new low-pro 22.5-inch TBB GR100 steer tire for line-haul fleets in its booth. Statewide worked directly with fleets in California to develop the SmartWay-verified, Load Range G tire, which is backed by a one-casing warranty.
The two companies that made the most noise, however, were Pirelli Tire North America Inc. and TBC Corp. The first announced it was entering the replacement truck tire market in the U.S. and Canada. The second introduced a number of new Sumitomo brand truck tires.
A new competitor
Clif Armstrong will build Pirelli’s replacement truck tire business in the U.S. and Canada from scratch as president of TP Commercial Solutions LLC, a division of TP Industrial based in Milan, Italy.
“The first two hires I’ve made with my new group are product engineers,” said Armstrong. “As you know, in both the fleet market and tire market, if your product doesn’t perform you can have all the nice brochures you want, but it’s got to be of value to the fleets and tire dealers.”
Armstrong said four commercial tire dealers and more than 40 fleets are participating in the testing and development of Pirelli brand truck tires in North America. Eventually, TP Commercial Solutions will sell a full complement of Pirelli replacement medium truck tires.
First out this year will be an on-off highway truck tire, followed by the FH:01 steer tire and TH:01 200 drive tire in late fall “when testing on them is done,” said Armstrong.
The tires will be marketed in the premium tier, “which means we intend to compete with everyone, including the Tier 1 players,” he said. “My belief is that you have the ability to reach that level if you have the right product.”
3 new Sumitomo tires, 3 to come
TBC markets tires in the U.S. under the Sumitomo and Sailun brand names.
Three Sumitomo tires will be launched in the second half of this year, all backed by a six-year warranty (from original purchase date) and a two-retread casing warranty. They will be available in sizes 11R22.5, 11R24.5 and 295/75R22.5.
The ST909 is an open-shoulder drive tire designed for regional service. It was engineered using new S-Tech Flat Contact Technology, which controls the shape and pressure distribution of the tire footprint. The tire also will be available in a fourth size, 255/70R22.5.
The ST709SE is a regional steer tire built with SmartWay-verified technology. It features a 20/32-inch tread depth applied to a wide, flat casing for longer life in high scuff applications.
The ST778+ SE is a long-haul steer tire also featuring new S-Tech Flat Contact Technology.
Three more Sumitomo tires will be launched next year, according to Bill Dashiell, senior vice president for TBC’s Commercial Division. In the works are a line-haul steer tire, a deep tread drive tire and “an updated regional steer all-position tire.”