GRAPEVINE, Texas—Goodyear has introduced two mid-tier tires under its Eagle and Assurance lines to familiarize more customers with its premium products.
The products, Launched during the firm's recent annual dealer meeting in Grapevine, also highlighted another recurring theme of the conference—the growing complexity of tire lines and sizes.
Goodyear introduced the Eagle GT, an all-season tire with “youth-influenced” styling, executives said. The tire features a dual zone tread area with both high-performance and all-season zones.
The tire will be offered in 43 sizes ranging from 15- to 22-inch rim diameters.
The first 26 sizes will be shipped July 1 with the remaining by September, the tire maker said.
Joey Viselli, Goodyear brand director, said the new tire will introduce the Eagle lineup to the youth performance market.
The company also introduced a third Assurance tire to target mid-tier consumers. The latest Assurance will be offered in 27 sizes ranging from 15- to 17-inch rim diameters by the end of March. The Assurance will replace Goodyear's Regatta II in most sizes.
“Our target consumer is the middle class 'everyday driver' who values a dependable tire at an affordable price,” Viselli said.
The tire—which also has dual zones for wet and dry performance—carries a 65,000-mile limited treadwear warranty.
Jack Winterton, Goodyear vice president of consumer tire sales, said both products target a mainstream market in response to dealer feedback.
“We've been on a very clear mission to fill in the top of our line and we completed that,” he said. “The next logical place to go is to come down to the upper mid tier.”
Larry Mason, president of North American consumer tires, said Goodyear is looking to bring more economy consumers into these lines.
“Our goal isn't to take the price point lower, it's to create something attractive that will bring folks up,” he said.
Ray Fitzpatrick, president and owner of Sooner Tire & Distributors Inc. in Sapulpa, Okla., said the Assurance tire likely would bring customers up rather than down since his premium-shopping customers start out looking for the top-of-the-line products.
“I think it's a good looking tire,” he said. “It looks like it will fill a void they've had for awhile.”
Filling those voids does lead to the ever-present issue of increasing product complexity, said Rich Kramer, president of North American Tire.
“But in my view, just as complexity creates robust segments in our industry, it also (allows) us to differentiate ourselves from our competition,” he told dealers. “We're using complexity to our advantage because it exists as a response, not because we want it but because consumers demand it. Let me tell you that complexity isn't going away, somebody will figure it out. And I ask you, why couldn't it be us? Let's figure it out and win together.”
Complexity's partner in crime, low fill rates, also will be the focus of a “major initiative” to see improvements, Mason said.
“Anything that starts with a nine would be a minimum standard,” he said, referring to fill rates at 90 percent or better.
Scott Cobb, vice president of 16-outlet American Tire Co. in Murfreesboro, Tenn., said he believes dealers can set themselves apart from their competition by adapting to complexity.
“It's not going to stop,” he said. “It's going to just continue to go. It's driven by the (car) manufacturers. The tire manufacturers are not the ones coming out with the sizes just for the heck of it.”
Adapting to the changes means investing in the right equipment to handle the larger sizes, stocking more tires and having quick access to even more.
“If you're going to remain a tire dealer, you're going to have to be able to handle them and service them or you're not going to be there,” Cobb said.