Remembering the Aquatred: It Changed the Aftermarket

Bob Ulrich
Posted on January 9, 2020

I have one day left as editor of Modern Tire Dealer, so I better make it count. My last editorial will run in our 54th annual Facts Issue, which runs in January. This year, it features 16(!) pages of in-depth statistical data and trends on the tire industry in 2019.

Now it is time for what is probably my last blog, unless MTD’s new editor, Mike Manges, asks me to write a guest blog sometime. Maybe I will have time to write another one before I officially retire Jan. 16. But for now, I end with a look back at the introduction of the Goodyear Aquatred.

Goodyear said the original Aquatred tire was based on a concept tire created in 1982 for Walt Disney World's EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) theme park.
Goodyear said the original Aquatred tire was based on a concept tire created in 1982 for Walt Disney World's EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) theme park.

While researching MTD’s history for our 100th anniversary celebration last year, I ran across a folder labeled “Aquachannel.” As you might expect, there was a lot of information about Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s Aquatred all-season tire, which was introduced in 1991.

It featured a two-channel design that was marketed as a “dramatic technological advance(ment)” in wet-weather driving and safety. Here’s what Goodyear said at the time:

“Goodyear’s Aquatred tire utilizes advanced rubber chemistry and a radical dual-tire appearance design in combination with anti-lock brake systems to get its most dramatic improvements in stopping a car more quickly and in dispersing water from under the tire on wet roads more effectively.”

What a great name. The Aquatred was a marketer’s dream, and proved to be a big hit with consumers. Within the next six years, the company would produce some 6 million of them. The tire design also introduced the term “aquachannel” into the tire industry’s vocabulary, and other manufacturers followed by developing their own aquachannel tires.

(I remember hearing that Goodyear unsuccessfully tried to trademark the word “aquachannel,” which someone ruled already had become a generic term.)

This photo shows the Aquatred moving through water at 60 miles per hour.
This photo shows the Aquatred moving through water at 60 miles per hour.

From what I remember, Goodyear’s appropriately named Regatta actually had superior traction on wet roads. But backed by marketing wizard Stan Gault, who was the CEO, chairman and president of Goodyear at the time, the Aquatred proved to be much more popular.

Here is what else I found in my folder:

  • Hydroplaning is referred to as aquaplaning in Europe.
  • The Aqua Mark was introduced by Kelly-Springfield Tire Co., a Goodyear subsidiary, in 1993.
  • Goodyear unveiled what it called “the first dual aquachannel wet-traction tire for the high performance market” in 1994: the Eagle Aquatred.
  • General Tire Inc., a subsidiary of Continental AG, introduced the Hydro 2000 and went out of its way to convince the press it was superior to the Aquatred. I have the 16-page independent test results to prove it (evidently I don’t throw anything away). Goodyear sued Continental General for patent infringement, and prevailed in 1996, resulting in the destruction of all Hydro 2000 tire molds.
  • The General Dual 90, introduced in 1956, had “dynamic traction” on wet roads. General said it was “the first tire in the history of the industry to feature dual curvature… which results in two distinct radii within each tire.” (In my 34-plus years at MTD, I had never used the word radii until now.)
  • In addition to the Goodyear, Kelly and General tires, there were nine other aquachannel tires in the aftermarket as of 1/10/95. They were the Continental AquaContact, TBC (Multi-Mile Grand Spirit) Aqua Flow, Cooper Rainmaster, Laramie Hydro Plus SCR, Telestar Hydro Plus, Jetzon Aqua Jet, Pirelli Aquamile, Reynolds Aqua-Tech and Vogue Twin Tread Tyre. Goodyear also had introduced the Wrangler Aquatred light truck tire by then.
  • Modern Tire Dealer estimated that aquachannel tires made up 2% of the 169.5 million replacement passenger tires in the U.S. in 1994.
  • An Aquatred II (1996) and Aquatred III (2001) also were introduced.

All good things come to an end, however. Goodyear replaced the Aquatred with its Assurance all-season tire line in 2004. It did take two Assurance tires to replace the Aquatred, however: the Comfortred and Tripletred.

Related Topics: aquachannel, B.O.B., Goodyear Aquatred, Goodyear Assurance, Goodyear Eagle Aquatred, Goodyear Wrangler Aquatred

Bob Ulrich Editor, Retired
Comments ( 7 )
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  • Discount Wheel Warehouse

     | about 2 months ago

    Congratulations on a great career

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