Modern Tire Dealer

FEB 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 9 20 P a s t , P r e s e n t , F u t u r e : P e r f o r m a n c e T i r e s I t is time to officially re-think the definitions for high and ultra-high performance tires. Speed ratings are not enough anymore. Neither is aspect ratio. Quite frankly, they haven't been enough for many years. Evolu- tion in tire development continues to make those factors less relevant. Original equipment fitments, designated use and marketing also have to be taken into consideration. So do size and profile as they relate to performance. "When the term 'high performance tire' is mentioned, it oen stimulates visions of high speed, horsepower and racing," says Bob Toth, director of industry relations for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. "But technically, high performance is all about improving vehicle maneuverability." Toth helped develop Goodyear's Eagle line in 1981. "As always, optimizing tire performance involves a complicated puzzle of performance attribute tradeoffs assembled to give consumers the specific performance balance desired," he says. A BRIEF HISTORY OF PERFORMANCE Ironically, there is no speed rating symbol requirement in the U.S. ey were first estab- lished in Europe, where they are mandatory. In the U.S., a tire only has to meet U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and their high speed performance test procedures. In order to communicate the tire's speed capabilities to tire dealers and tire buyers, however, U.S. manufacturers began using the European speed rating symbols in the 1980s. e forerunner of today's high and ultra- high performance tires may have been the Pirelli P7 radial tire, which was fitted as original equipment on the 1975 Porsche 930 Turbo. "Car and Driver" considered the tire, with its 50- and 55-series sizes, as the first ultra-low-profile tire. "Road & Track" also gave the P7 props, writing it "broke the race/street tire caste system." e high performance market, how- ever, arguably began with the creation and marketing of the Goodyear Eagle VR. Also referred to as the Eagle Gatorback because of its tread design, the P255/50VR16 tire was OE on the 1983 Corvette. In 1985, there were four performance tire definitions: cosmetic, performance, high performance and ultra-high performance. ey were defined as follows: 1. Cosmetic tires had no speed markings, but had the look of performance-enhanced tires, despite construction and tread design features to the contrary. e El Dorado Custom Stock 60- and 70-series bias brand (remember that tire?) was an example of a cosmetic performance tire; a 75-series, white sidewall, all-season radial was not. Defining performance tires Bob Ulrich By P-metric and metric tires with H and above speed ratings made up 55.6% of the 214.3 million replacement passenger tires shipped in the U.S. in 2018. They totaled 119.3 million units, which included high and ultra-high performance tires. The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association says the primary design features of high performance and UHP tires are "response, handling and cornering power." Speed ratings and domestic market share H-RATED TIRE MARKET SHARE BY BRAND (based on 61.3 million units, including imports) Michelin .......................... 11.0% Goodyear ........................ 11.0% Yokohama ......................... 6.5% Bridgestone...................... 6.0% Hankook ............................ 5.0% Continental ....................... 4.5% Falken ................................ 4.5% Toyo ................................... 4.5% BFGoodrich ...................... 4.0% Firestone ........................... 3.5% Kumho ............................... 3.5% Nexen ................................ 3.5% Pirelli ................................. 2.5% Cooper............................... 2.0% Dunlop ............................... 2.0% General ............................. 2.0% Nitto ................................... 2.0% Sumitomo.......................... 2.0% Primewell.......................... 2.0% GT Radial .......................... 1.5% Sailun ................................ 1.0% Others.............................. 15.5% V-RATED AND ABOVE TIRE MARKET SHARE BY BRAND (based on 58 million units, including imports) Goodyear ........................ 13.0% Michelin .......................... 12.5% Bridgestone...................... 8.0% Continental ....................... 6.5% Falken ................................ 6.5% Hankook ............................ 5.5% Pirelli ................................. 5.5% Yokohama ......................... 4.5% Nexen ................................ 4.0% Toyo ................................... 3.5% BFGoodrich ...................... 3.0% Kumho ............................... 3.0% Firestone ........................... 2.0% Delinte ............................... 2.0% Nitto ................................... 2.0% Dunlop ............................... 1.5% Cooper............................... 1.5% General ............................. 1.5% Sumitomo.......................... 1.5% GT Radial .......................... 1.0% Landsail............................. 1.0% Others.............................. 11.0% Brands must have at least 1% of the market to be listed at 1%. SOURCE: MODERN TIRE DEALER ESTIMATES SPEED RATINGS ARE NO LONGER THE EMPHASIS. STILL…

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