Forecast: more accumulation

March 1, 2008

The winter tire segment keeps on growing. According to Michelin North America Inc. and Continental Tire North America Inc. (CTNA), winter tire sales accounted for 2% of all passenger, SUV and light truck replacement tires sold in the United States during 2007.

“Since 2002, winter tire sales have increased an average of 4% annually,” say Michelin officials.

In the United States, New England has witnessed the biggest spike in winter tire sales. A new law recently passed in Quebec mandating that all drivers use winter tires starting the next winter season will ensure that winter tire sales remain strong in Canada.

As sales continue to increase, tire manufacturers are becoming more vocal about winter tire classification. Many claim that the terms “snow tire” and “winter tire” are not interchangeable. “We don’t want to promote that (winter tire performance) is only related to snow,” says Andreas Gerstenberger, executive vice president, sales and marketing, for CTNA.

Meanwhile, tire manufacturers and marketers continue to introduce more winter tire products and sizes in an effort to keep up with changing market demands. In this special section, we’ll take a look at what’s new, what’s on the way, and how tire dealers can more effectively sell winter tires.