Toyo's focus: 'Keep our dealers competitive'
“Steady as she goes” is one way to describe Toyo Tire U.S.A. Corp.’s medium truck tire program. Without a lot of fanfare, the Cypress, Calif.-based company has been quietly building its truck tire dealer network, as well as its portfolio of tires.
At the forefront of Toyo’s new product line-up is the M647, a premium drive tire that was introduced this past May. The tire contains the company’s e-balance technology, which helps minimize tread profile growth during operation. This, in turn, helps maintain a more uniform tread radius during the life of the casing, which results in long wear.
Toyo has high hopes for the tire. Modern Tire Dealer Senior Editor Mike Manges recently caught up with Ron Gilbert, Toyo’s director of sales, commercial products, to discuss the M647, Toyo’s overall truck tire strategy, and where dealers fit into the big picture.
MTD: Can you bring us up to speed on Toyo’s medium truck tire program in the U.S.?
Gilbert: Our medium truck tire program for the U.S. remains the same as in the past. Our focus is to maintain our relationship with our dealers and fleets that have used our tires in the past, while assisting our dealers in obtaining new customers during the economic downturn. We are making every effort to keep our dealers competitive with quality products to offer to their fleet and owner-operator customers.
MTD: This past May, Toyo rolled out the M647, a premium drive tire. How is the product faring? What has the reaction from dealers and end users been?
Gilbert: The M647 is a 30/32-inch deep tread tire designed for the over-the-road customer… the M647 is performing well in these applications. As the winter months approach, we expect more opportunities to expand our customer base on these tires.
MTD: The M647 contains Toyo’s e-balance technology. Can you tell me more about this technology? Will you incorporate e-balance into future medium truck tires?
Gilbert: The new e-balance technology realizes drastic improvements in fundamental tire characteristics. Toyo’s e-balance technology is designed to deliver the following improvements when compared to conventional truck tire technologies: economy, for better and longer tread life; energy, for reduced fuel consumption; endurance; and ecology… because with the above improvements, Toyo’s e-balance tires are environmentally friendly.
Our premium M-137 long haul steer tire and our M154 premium regional tire also have e-balance technology.
MTD: What are Toyo’s plans for its truck tire dealer network in the U.S? Are you looking to add dealers or are you pretty well saturated?
Gilbert: Toyo has built its overall business model around the independent truck tire dealer. We do not see this changing. We are looking to expand our business in select markets with servicing truck tire dealers.
MTD: Any chance we’ll see an OE fitment for Toyo in the near future? Is OE part of Toyo’s truck tire strategy in the U.S.?
Gilbert: No comment at this time.
MTD: More and more truck tire manufacturers are introducing wide-base tires. Do you have plans to enter the wide-base segment?
Gilbert: Toyo has always strived to keep our dealers and fleets abreast of the changing medium truck tire market in the U.S.
“The trucking industry is ever-changing,” says Gilbert. “As these markets evolve, we will keep our options open.”