Five Big Trends to Watch In the New Year

Dec. 14, 2020

As 2020 draws to a close, the big question seems to be, “What will the new year bring?” Curtis Brison, vice president of passenger and light truck tire sales, Hankook Tire America Corp., recently shared his thoughts with me. Here are Brison’s top five predictions for 2021.

1. Expect more volatility. “The market will remain uncertain as the pandemic will continue to be the dominant force through the first half of the year,” Brison told us. “However, we expect that many Americans will continue to show a preference for driving over air travel or public transportation, which could result in an increased demand for tire sales later in 2021.”

2. More “economical choices.” What does Brison mean by this? In his words: “With many car owners tightening their belts amid difficult financial conditions, vehicle owners will look to make smarter, more economical choices. We anticipate that tire sales in 2021 will gravitate towards more budget-friendly - yet high-performing - options. And drivers who frequently face inclement weather will have the option to explore the growing all-weather tire market, instead of purchasing separate sets of all-season and all-winter rubber.” (Hankook is extremely bullish on the all-weather segment, as evidenced by this recent MTD article).

3. Light truck, SUVs and bigger rims will be the “hottest” segments. “Light trucks and SUVs are increasing in their share of new vehicle sales, driving demand for that sector of the tire market,” says Brison. “We’re also seeing an increase in rim sizes for tire sales, particularly for 18 inches and up.”

4. New “demands” for EV tires. “Electric vehicle owners are paying more attention to the role their tires play in the performance and comfort of their vehicles," he explains. "In addition to a need for decreased rolling resistance and longer tread life, EVs’ characteristically quieter motors mean that noise dampening is becoming a critical factor for these purchases. To address this, tire manufacturers are now focusing on ways to improve this, including adding foam to EV tires.” (I must say, the addition of “foam” to EV tires is news to me. I think this is something I need to follow up on!)

5. Dealers must keep their focus on customer safety and care. “Repeat business has always been the name of the game, but making sure customers today feel safe in addition to being taken care of is crucial to ensuring sustainable business throughout 2021,” notes Brison. “Dealers can also help to maximize customers visits by offering them appropriate ‘while you’re here’ services, perhaps at a reduced rate, to help extend the life of the vehicle and the time in-between service appointments.”

I can't disagree with any of the above. And I know one thing that won’t change next year, and that’s the fact that independent tire dealers will remain the dominant replacement tire sales channel and the preferred option for consumers.

Nobody - and I mean nobody - takes better care of tire buyers than you and your peers. And in uncertain times like these, that means more than ever before.

About the Author

Mike Manges | Editor

Mike Manges is Modern Tire Dealer’s editor. A 25-year tire industry veteran, he is a three-time International Automotive Media Association award winner and holds a Gold Award from the Association of Automotive Publication Editors. Mike has traveled the world in pursuit of stories that will help independent tire dealers move their businesses forward. Before rejoining MTD in September 2019, he held corporate communications positions at two Fortune 500 companies and served as MTD’s senior editor from 2000 to 2010.