The idea was to produce "the best performing broad market tire Goodyear ever made," said Jon Rich, president of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s North American Tire operations.
The result was a family of tires. Goodyear introduced the first two tires in the new Assurance tire line at a special product launch held prior to its 2004 Dealer Meeting in Kissimmee, Fla.
Both all-season tires are named Assurance. One tire features "Comfortred Technology" and is geared to possible original equipment fitments. The other features "Tripletred Technology" and its more aggressive, unidirectional tread pattern.
Assurance replaces the Aquatred 3, which will be phased out over the course of the year.
In its consumer research, Goodyear found that the top two consumer needs were safety and comfort. "'Safety for me and my family' was the number one overriding concern," said Andy Traicoff, general marketing manager for Goodyear consumer tires. Number two was a "quiet, comfortable ride."
To meet those needs, Goodyear developed Assurance from concept to completed product in 18 months. The two Assurance tires are:
1. Comfortred. Designed for luxury cars, it has a rubber "comfort layer" that gives the tire 20% more cushion between the tread and the belt. Its tread pattern has densely packed tread blocks, a decoupling groove on both sides, and angled blades and grooves "specifically designed so they gradually enter the footprint to minimize noise," said Dave Griffin, senior development engineer.
The tire features a feather icon on the sidewall.
The tire line will be introduced in 20 sizes, three of them H-rated, covering 94% of the luxury car segment. It will be priced at a premium, roughly 20% more than similar Goodyear tires.
2. TripleTred. Three unique compounds split the tread into three "zones," one for wet performance, one for dry and one for ice. The all-season tire line initially will be launched in 13 sizes, with more added during the summer.
The TripleTred's sidewall is decorated with an icon featuring the sun, three rain drops and a snowflake.
The TripleTred is also a premium-priced tire. Goodyear said it will sell for 5% to 8% higher than the Assurance featuring Comfortred.
The Assurance line is the flagship brand for Goodyear's passenger tire lines. The other three flagship brands in Goodyear's four-segment approach to consumer tire marketing are Eagle (high performance tires), Fortera (SUV tires) and Wrangler (light truck tires).
The tires, built in Lawton, Okla., share 80,000-mile limited tread wear warranties and Goodyear's Permablack compounding, which prevents discoloring due to ozone damage.
(Bridgestone Corp. recently announced it, too, had patented "ozone reactive materials" technology that creates a black or glossy surface on the sidewall of a tire.)
In addition to the tread wear warranty, the tires are backed by a 30-day satisfaction guarantee; a Roadside Assistance Program (the Dunlop D65 Touring tire has a similar program); a nationwide warranty service; and a tire rotation reminder service.
Goodyear says it is spending more than $50 million on the tire's advertising campaign. Television ads, at least for the TripleTred line, will be voiced by actor Patrick Stewart.
Stewart is best know for playing Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Starship Enterprise in Star Trek: the Next Generation. He also starred as mutant Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies.