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Pirelli adds new N.A. sales initiatives

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AUSTIN, Texas—Using the inaugural U.S. Grand Prix in Austin as a stage, Pirelli Tire North America Inc. shared some Texas-sized ambitions with about 300 of its dealers and distributors that include plans for a certified Pirelli dealership program and an expanded marketing and promotional campaign.

Meeting in San Antonio prior to attending the recent Formula 1 race at the Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Pirelli dealers learned of the tire maker's strategies for North America for 2013 and beyond.

Among the initiatives Pirelli executives outlined were:

c Improved fill rates, thanks to its new factory in Silao, Mexico. Once the plant is up to speed, Silao can pump out 5 million units a year. The new Cinturato P7 All Season original equipment tire and the replacement version, the All Season Plus, were developed for North America and made in Silao.

c More dealer education in the form of e-learning and traveling “drive-and-learn” demonstrations. The e-learning platform is interactive and designed to assess the learner's baseline tire knowledge before delving into Pirelli products and technology.

Dealers who have at least one employee successfully complete the online tutorial will earn the designation of being a “certified” Pirelli dealership and that distinction will be noted on the Pirelli website's dealer locator.

c Traveling tire demonstrations will concentrate on the new Cinturato P7 All-Season. Proposed cities include Los Angeles; Phoenix; New York/New Jersey; Atlanta; Miami; Boston; St. Louis; Baltimore/-Philadelphia; San Francisco; Chicago; Detroit and Dallas.

c A big push into print and online marketing and community building. The firm has “lot of great stories to tell,” said Rafael Navarro III, vice president of communications, media relations and motorsports for Pirelli Tire North America.

There also will be an online “Hit the Road” contest for consumers, blogger outreaches, more advertising in enthusiast magazines as well as trade publications.

Pirelli also is strengthening its relationship with noted car customizer Chip Foose of “Overhaulin'” and Ken Block, the daring driver of the Gymkhana viral videos he popularized on the Internet.

To reach its targets, Pirelli will “keep investing in innovation, research and product development. That's always been the DNA for Pirelli,” said Paolo Ferrari, chairman and CEO of Pirelli NAFTA region.

Noting that parent Pirelli Tyre S.p.A. spends about 7 percent of sales on research and development, Ferrari told dealers that over the next three years Pirelli will have 18 new products, compared with the last 10 years in which it launched 15 new tires.

New products “are going to account for 50 percent of revenue (while) premium original equipment sales are going to grow from 70 percent to 80 percent,” he said.

The tire maker announced an incentive contest in which dealers who reach Pirelli's sales targets will win a trip to Sicily, Italy. Holding the dealer meeting to coincide with the U.S. Grand Prix at Austin tied into Pirelli Tyre's role as the exclusive race tire supplier to Formula 1.