Sailun 'Plants Flag' in Emerging EV Tire Category

Oct. 13, 2022

Sailun Tire Americas is positioning itself as a force in the emerging electric vehicle (EV) tire category with the launch of its new ERANGE EV tire, which contains the company’s EcoPoint3 liquid phase mixing technology. 

The first Sailun tire to feature EcoPoint3, the ERANGE EV is available now in more than 30 sizes, according to Ron Dolan, president of Sailun Tire Americas. 

Dolan sat down with MTD at a recent ride-and-drive event in Los Angeles, Calif., to discuss the ERANGE EV, Sailun’s EcoPoint3 technology, where Sailun is positioning the ERANGE EV, how the tire will be distributed, his overall take on the burgeoning EV tire category and more. 

“We really want to say to the marketplace that we’re a leader in EV tires and we’re planting our flag,” he said. 

MTD: As more tire manufacturers like Sailun bring EV-specific tires to market, it seems like we are seeing the emergence of a new product category... 

Dolan: I think we’re definitely seeing that. We’re on the precipice of the mass vehicle market adopting EVs, so  it’s definitely considered a new, separate category.  

MTD: Why has it been important for Sailun to get in on the ground floor of EV tires? 

Dolan: It started with EcoPont3 technology. The Sailun Group, parent company of Sailun Tire Americas, invented this proprietary liquid phase technology and it dawned on us that ‘They're talking about low rolling resistance, a quieter tire...’ We had an epiphany and said, ‘Wouldn't this be fantastic for EVs if everything they are saying in their lab testing is true in the real world?’  

We came up with the concept and (performance) attributes we wanted and we benchmarked to the leading brands. Our research and development center sent over tires for third-party testing. And the (tires) accomplished what we wanted.  

Because we were so pleased with the results, we did further third-party tests beyond the initial evaluations. I then bought an EV myself to purposely understand what the consumers of these tires go through on a daily basis. I quickly realized with their instant torque how a long-wearing compound would be vital.  

I’m also a father of three girls and the ability to stop quickly was critical … and also reducing range anxiety. So I knew we had to make a tire that hit those marks. We feel we have a tire that’s performing at the tier-one level, but we are selling it within the EV tire category  as a value-tier product. 

MTD: Do you foresee a tier hierarchy developing as the EV tire category evolves? 

Dolan: The generations of consumers coming in now – the Gen Z's – are more data-driven. And their affinity to brands is not the same as generations before. Let’s face it – there are brands you know and there are brands you don’t know. I think at the consumer level, that’s where it is.  

MTD: Where are you positioning the new ERANGE EV? 

Dolan: Within EV-specific tires – and there aren’t many of them out, by the way – we are, from the very top, 25% to 30% less than other brands today. EV-specific, we will be positioned comparably versus conventional tires. 

Through our testing and how we're positioning it in the market, we believe that we deliver the best value. We are delivering a value solution. 

MTD: Some tiremakers maintain you can take an existing tire with existing technology, put in on an EV and not lose performance. Sailun is saying it’s better to run tires made specifically for EVs... 

Dolan: ...and for hybrid vehicles, as well - not just fully electric. I think this tire adds a ton of value for hybrid drivers. We know that with the high torque of these vehicles, conventional compounds will have extremely fast wear. With our proprietary technology, we can have a long-wearing tire that doesn’t sacrifice rolling resistance and grip. Could that be valuable to an internal combustion engine car? Absolutely. We really want to say to the marketplace that we’re a leader in EV tires and we’re planting our flag. We want to be known as an expert in EV tires. That’s the route we want to take.  

MTD: The ERANGE EV will be available soon? 

Dolan: Yes. There are tires on their way to distribution centers as we speak. Our exclusive distributor in the U.S. is TBC Corp., with the fantastic network they have in their National Tire Wholesale and TBC Brands divisions. We also have four or five distributors who – in addition to TBC – will distribute our product in Canada. 

MTD: What’s the rationale in distributing through TBC in the U.S. versus distributing through TBC and going direct to dealers in the U.S.? 

Dolan: We’ve had a long relationship with TBC. The two companies complement each other, with our ability to manufacture high-quality products and TBC’s second-to-none ability to distribute the product. TBC also has a long history and many deep relationships. We believe they're the best channel to (distribute) our product in the U.S.

MTD: Do you foresee selling the tire through other channels, such as big box retailers like Sam’s Club or Canadian Tire?  

Dolan: At this time, we’ll work with TBC in the U.S. and with TBC and our other distributors in Canada. We won't over-distribute the product.  

MTD: Do you plan to develop EV tires for other applications? 

Dolan: Yes. With the Ford F-150 Lightning and other electric pickup trucks coming, we have some concept tires we’re working on right now – and definitely for the commercial van fleet. They're going to be highly electric. So we have plans for that segment and lots of other exciting things down the road.  

MTD: How quickly do you think market acceptance of EV tires will accelerate? 

Dolan: EV-specific tires have good-wearing compounds, but still wear out faster than conventional vehicle tires. We believe the replacement cycle will come faster than (with) your typical original equipment tires. I think we will have a replacement market in double digits within four to five years.  

MTD: The ERANGE EV comes in 32 sizes right out of the gate... 

Dolan: ...and that’s a big commitment for us. We’re not a tier-one tire company that has OE placements today. But we’re working hard to get those relationships started. We believe that with EcoPont3, we have a story to tell the OEMs now. Before – although we built a fantastic tire – we didn’t have a concrete story that listed reasons why to switch. It’s a long-term project. We know that won’t happen overnight, but we're a patient company and have a long-term plan.  

With EcoPoint3, we’ll come out with other products down the road. We’re looking at areas where we believe this technology will add value. We have the ability to create tires that are very safe. Their stopping ability is second to none.

We believe a high-end SUV tire in more premium fitments could be an interesting spot to be. We are starting to enter the off-road (light truck) tire market and believe EcoPoint3 will add to the ability to have fantastic cut- and chip-resistant compounds. We’re doing testing right now with our medium truck tire line and we’re seeing tremendous results in fuel economy. 

This is an exciting time. We’re very optimistic about our future. But we’re very committed to offering a value solution. We’re proud to be in that position today. We will (introduce) products that may not be (in) our conventional position, but will be part of an agreed-upon strategy with our dealer network. We do not make decisions in a silo. Our strategy is built with our dealers.  

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.