Yokohama’s VP of sales outlines truck tire market

Jan. 20, 2011

The commercial truck tire market rebounded strongly in 2010 according to Dan King, Yokohama senior vice president of sales and marketing, to the point that some companies faced fill rate problems as Yokohama’s business increased. He credits a strong 2010 to increased demand in 2009, when there was a reduction in inventory levels in the tire industry.

“Fleets, for example, went so far as cannibalizing tires from their other trucks that were not in operation,” King said. “Because of the recession, there was a lot of risk to carry inventory. However, in 2010, the economy began to turn around and trucks started to get back on the road. It was this pent-up demand that primarily contributed to a very successful year for Yokohama.”

King said the biggest issue for Yokohama last year was fill rate, starting mid-year when the company experienced an unexpected increase in demand, which led to fill rate problems. King explained how Yokohama addressed that problem.

“There are two primary ways: taking the existing production globally and reallocating as much as you can to a particular country or increasing capacity, which takes much longer,” he said. “That’s an investment in the future. In 2011, we still expect to see some issues with supply, as will the entire industry.”

Another factor of concern for the industry is raw material cost increases, and King doesn’t see this letting up any time soon. As a result, the company has had to increase prices but King said even that won’t cover the additional expense. To make up some of the difference, Yokohama’s commercial division launched new products, and the company also introduced the SmartSolution communications program and had several tires verified by the EPA’s SmartWay program. Another new product is the Online Fuel Calculator, which King said is a simple, accurate way to predict the fuel savings between Yokohama commercial tires and those of competitors.

“We also show the environmental impact, which is different than other fuel calculators,” he said. “We’ve actually used some of our competitors’ calculators, which always picked Yokohama, but we decided we needed our own.”

In addition to the 101ZL and super-single, another Yokohama commercial product being released in 2011 is a new lower positioned economy steer tire.