Consumers Want What We Educate Them On

Oct. 28, 2016

Each month we ask members of our National Advisory Council (NAC) a question or questions on a current hot topic. Recently we asked, “It doesn’t seem like there are many T- or S-rated tires anymore, at least at the OE level. Is there still a ‘high performance’ tire market, or has the evolution of tire technology turned HP into the new broad market? Do your performance tire customers now seek only ‘ultra-high performance’ tires?” Here are some of their responses.

Today’s consumer demands vehicle performance considerably more than that of yesteryear. Coupled with the technological advancements in tires, consumers want a vehicle that is safe, comfortable and handles well. Today’s tires can do all of that without breaking the bank and this satisfies a high percentage of consumers. Sure, the UHP market exists and will continue to grow as the original equipment market contributes to this as well (particularly based on new vehicle sales in the last couple of years), as many new vehicles are equipped with a much higher speed rating than a T- or S-rated tire.

  1. As an industry, we may need to do a better job of clarifying the differences between “high” performance and “ultra-high” performance. Sales of H-, V-, Z-, and Y-speed-rated tires — those belonging to the market’s fast-growing, ultra-high-performance tier — continue to increase by double digits year-over-year. Personally, I consider these tires now within the broad market; however, as an industry we don’t really have a standard terminology, definitions and to some extent applications guidelines for tires across this segment.
  2. I asked our retail supervisor to comment on these questions. He said, yes, there is a “high performance” market. No, the evolution of the HP tire has not turned HP into the new broad market. And no, our customers do not just seek ultra-high performance tires. We think they want what we educate them on, actually.

What’s on your mind?

We also asked members of our NAC what was on their mind. They responded with:

I am asking a very simple question regarding the previous tariffs on passenger and light truck tires, the new OTR tariffs that have lumped ag implement tires into the category of earthmover products, and the recent rulings on Chinese truck tires (and the punitive rulings still to come). Where has all the money gone which was collected by the Obama administration and what effect has it had on U.S. tire production — other than raise the prices for everyone who buys tires? Any new jobs, factory opening incentives (other than by the individual states) or retraining opportunities for those who may have lost their jobs to overseas production? Can anyone tell us where the money has gone and what good all the tariffs have done or could do? Will it go to the Clinton Foundation if Hillary Clinton is elected? Everything else has in recent years.

Tom Van Ormer, Director of Purchasing

East Bay Tire Co.

Fairfield, Calif.

Cause and effect. I see it more and more today. People treat the effect, not the cause. This approach causes the problem to never to go away. As an example, how many years are we going to send money to the starving children in Africa?

I also see this problem in business today. When employees don’t live up to their abilities, you need to find out the cause, not the end result.

Why do tire businesses want out of a state tire dealers association? Why do tire dealers not attend meetings of the associations? United we stand, divided we fall!

Jeff Cohen, Co-owner

Traction Wholesale Center

Bensalem, Pa.

The trucking industry is facing real challenges in attracting drivers. Are tire and auto dealers seeing the same challenges with technicians? Are general service personnel harder to source than ASE technicians, or vice versa? What are the long-term ramifications of this?

Jon Shields, Field Sales and Training

Carroll Tire Co.

Atlanta, Ga.

We’re prepping for Hurricane Matthew!

We have a commercial dealership in North Charleston (about 20 miles from the coast) and it should not be affected by the storm surge. The only concerns for us would be high winds and excessive rain.

Tripp Lee, General Manager

Frasier Tire Service Inc.

Sumter, S.C.

Join Modern Tire Dealer’s National Advisory Council

Each month, Modern Tire Dealer is guided and influenced by a select group of readers  —  members of our National Advisory Council. These members’ opinions are the heart of the monthly Your Marketplace column, compiled by industry analyst Nick Mitchell. If you’d like to join this prestigious group, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you. Contact Editor Bob Ulrich at [email protected] or call (330) 899-2200, ext. 11.

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About the Author

Bob Ulrich

Bob Ulrich was named Modern Tire Dealer editor in August 2000 and retired in January 2020. He joined the magazine in 1985 as assistant editor, and had been responsible for gathering statistical information for MTD's "Facts Issue" since 1993. He won numerous awards for editorial and feature writing, including five gold medals from the International Automotive Media Association. Bob earned a B.A. in English literature from Ohio Northern University and has a law degree from the University of Akron.