Dunlop laps the field early: Plenty of tires were introduced during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week. Goodyear was first out of the gate
Before the SEMA Show began, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. introduced two new Dunlop ultra-high performance summer tires to tire dealers at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In addition, the SP Sport Signature line, which became available to dealers a year ago without fanfare, announced 14 size upgrades.
Goodyear describes the new Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 as an “extreme” performance summer tire. The street-legal tire is designed for driving enthusiasts over the road and car-club members on the track.
It is available in 20 sizes ranging from 195/55VR15 to 245/45WR18.
Kent Rafferty, a driving instructor hired by Goodyear, said the tire performed “almost like a Kumho or Hoosier type R (racing) tire.”
However, the tire competes against similar D.O.T-approved tires like the Bridgestone Potenza RE-01R, Yokohama Advan Neova AD07, Falken RT-615, Kumho Ecsta MX and BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KD.
David Ehler, president of NexTire Group LLC, a 12-store chain based in Alpharetta, Ga., said he was intrigued by the Sport Z1 because of its pull-through.
“We will probably sell more of the Signature and Sport Signature. The Z1 is more of an ultra-high performance tire. But sometimes that helps sell the (broad-line performance) tires.
“It’s brand recognition. When the customer buys the Signature, he still feels he has the performance aspect of the Z1.”
Dunlop brand tires account for between 15% and 20% of the tires sales at NexTire, according to Ehler. Goodyear accounts for 70% overall. However, at its Decatur store, the breakdown is closer to 30% Dunlop, 30% Goodyear, according to David’s son, Richard Ehler, who manages the outlet.
He said the Sport Z1 line offers an enthusiast driving a BMW, entry-level Mercedes or Acura options to comparable Goodyear tires, which are often more expensive. In some cases, the Dunlops have greater mileage warranties, too.
“The customer who drives a Lexus into our store is a little more price conscious. If price was no object, then he would walk into the Lexus dealer and hand them his credit card.”
Richard said he will carry fewer sizes in the Sport Z1 line and the other new summer tire line, the SP Sport Maxx GT, than he does in the Signature power-line.
“I can’t stock everything. I have to make choices. Dunlop is all about getting to the ‘in-the-know’ customers. I want a few of the (niche) tires in stock, but I also want the influence they have on other customers.”
The SP Sport Maxx GT, introduced earlier this year in Europe, is a premium tire targeting exotic luxury sports cars like the Lamborghini Gallardo, Porsche 911 Carrera S, Audi S5, BMW M5 and M6, and Jaguar S-Type 4.2. It will be available in North America in May 2008.
The line initially will consist of the following eight Y-rated sizes:
18-inch: 235/40R18, 245/40R18, 255/35R18 and 285/35R18.
19-inch: 235/35R19, 255/40R19, 285/35R19 and 295/30R19.
Additional 18- through 23-inch sizes will be available in August 2008.
Sizing up the SP Sport Signature
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. recently added seven W-rated sizes to its Dunlop SP Sport Signature all-season performance line. They are:
17-inch: 225/45R17, 225/50R17, 235/45R17, 245/40R17 and 245/45R17.
18-inch: 225/40R18 and 245/45R18.
A 20-inch size, 245/35YR20, will be added by the end of the year, according to Jennifer Gabor, project manager, North American consumer tire technology.
Six more sizes, tentatively V-rated and higher, will be added in 2008. “We will continue to bring out line extensions to match the vitality needed in the market for both the Signature and Sport Signature,” she said. “The OE sizes are migrating larger, so the replacement market has to chase that.”
Making a Federal case for global respectability
“Our main focus is our touring and motorsports,” drifting in particular, said Jamie Ma, CEO of Taiwan-based Federal Corp.
To that end, Federal introduced the 595 RS-R at the SEMA Show. The D.O.T.-approved drifting tire features a semi-slick tread pattern and steel-belted sidewall reinforcement.
“You can use it for drifting or sport compact car and track racing,” said Ma, who compares it to the Yokohama Advan Neova AD07.
Federal also launched competition tires targeting professional track racing events. The FZ101 and FZ201 are engineered for dry and wet surfaces, respectively. They directly challenge the Advan AD048.
Another new member of the 595 high performance family, the 595EVO, will be available in 69 sizes. It features “groove within a groove” technology for water dispersion and a central rib for straight line stability and “on-center feel.”
The 595EVO will be available in 14- through 20-inch standard and XL sizes ranging from 195/45VR14 through 285/30YR20. It eventually will replace the 595.
Booth visitors also received a sneak peek at the 595RPM, which will be introduced in the second half of 2008. It was designed for use on vehicles like the Mustang, Corvette, Porsche 997, Ferrari F430 and Lamborghini Gallardo. Solid outer shoulder blocks are designed for traction; inner siping is designed for optimum ride.
The asymmetric street competition tire will be available in sizes ranging from 18 through 23 inches, and will compete against the Pirelli P Zero Rosso.
Also in the booth was Federal’s Formoza FD2, the next generation FD1 tire. It has improved performance and comfort features for use on luxury sedans, and is available in 17 14- through 18-inch sizes. Another 25 sizes are under development.
Federal will soon round out its Couragia light truck tire series with the A/T to go along with the Couragia H/T, S/U and M/T lines. It will be available in 29 P-metric and LT sizes.
The new Hero Atlanta AR01 touring tire is designed for comfort and “low db noise,” said Ma. It is available in 83 sizes.
Hero is more than a Federal associate brand, according to Ma. “It’s like Kelly-Springfield. It has history. It’s an old brand.” (Federal bought the Chinese brand in 1997.)