Goodyear is tapping into the Dunlop brands racing past by introducing an ultra-high-performance flagship product, a tuner tire and a light truck highway tire for luxury and crossover sport-utility vehicles.
The goal, company officials stressed at the tires' recent launch in Las Vegas, is to revitalize a brand that has a historic European racing heritage and original equipment fitments on some of the world's finest automobiles but has not met expectations in the U.S.
``We are re-energizing our commitment to Dunlop, and our belief in the Dunlop brand is great,'' said Jon Rich, president of Goodyear North American Tire. The goal, he said, is to build the brand's share of the North American market to 5 percent from its estimated 2.5 to 3 percent.
The new tires, introduced at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, are the ultra-high-performance Dunlop SP Sport Maxx, launched earlier this year in Europe but now available in the U.S.; the Direzza DZ101 tuner tire; and the Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 highway light truck tire.
The three products compete in two of the fastest growing tire segments-ultra-high-performance and luxury SUVs, said Andy Traicoff, director of Dunlop consumer tire marketing.
Goodyear expects the aggressive launch, along with innovative marketing programs, to help reinvigorate the brand. The Dunlop brand has struggled since Goodyear acquired 75-percent control of Dunlop's operations in North America and Europe in 1999 through its deal with Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.
While the tire maker has focused on its Goodyear nameplate in recent years to get North American Tire and the brand back on track, ``it's now time for Dunlop to take the next step,'' Traicoff said.
``We're ready to move and that's why we want to do this in a big way,'' he said of the Las Vegas tire launch.
In designing the SP Sport Maxx, Goodyear focused its research and development efforts on the tire's dry handling capabilities ``because that's what sport-oriented, passionate drivers of powerful cars expect most from their tires,'' said Warren Croyle, marketing manager for Dunlop consumer tires.
To achieve the desired handling requirements, Goodyear designed the tire using Dunlop's Multi Radius Tread technology, which maximizes the tire's contact area and pressure distribution under hard cornering, said Chris Raglin, Dunlop tire development engineer.
And to make the tire quieter, the tire features a five-block pitch sequence that reduces noise through frequency cancellation, Raglin said.
Goodyear is offering the SP Sport Maxx in 26 sizes.
The Dunlop Direzza DZ101, another UHP tire, targets the fast-growing vehicle personalization segment-that is, car enthusiasts who bolt on aftermarket parts to make a statement.
Developed as a complement to Dunlop's other tuner tire, the SP Sport FM901, the Direzza was designed with Dunlop's Digital Rolling Simulation II technology to reduce pattern noise and improve wear uniformity.
Sumitomo is making the Direzza in Japan for Goodyear. Goodyear is offering the tire in 12 sizes, bringing the company's coverage of the sport compact market to 75 percent, Croyle said.
In the light truck tire segment, the Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 is a tire Goodyear describes as having ``a macho, aggressive appearance with refined dynamics.''
Designed for the booming luxury SUV market, the Grandtrek AT20 is a hybrid tire-a cross between a passenger and light truck tire, Croyle said.