NEW YORK—Tires with high speed ratings are growing in popularity among U.S. consumers, according to the latest retail panel findings from market research firm GfK.
The sales gains for higher-speed-rated tires signify that higher quality products increasingly drive the U.S. tire marketplace, according to a GfK press release issued July 10.
"Across the passenger car, SUV and light truck segments, consumers increasingly favor tires that are rated for speeds that most drivers will likely never approach—up to 168 miles per hour," GfK said.
In passenger car tires, which represent 55 percent of total U.S. replacement sales volume, buyers are shifting from T-rated tires (up to 116 mph) to V-rated (149 mph) and H-rated (168 mph) tires, according to the GfK retail panel.
H-rated tires claimed 32 percent of the passenger tire market in both 2016 and 2017, GfK said. V-rated tires rose from 19 to 20 percent of the market in those two years, while T-rated tires went from 29 to 31 percent.
SUV tires, representing 30 percent of the replacement tire market, saw a similar shift, with consumers moving from S-rated tires (112 mph) to H-rated tires (130 mph).
"Three of the four top tire manufacturers recorded growth in H-rated SKUs," GfK said.
R-rated light truck tires (106 mph) still accounted for more than half the market in 2017, but dropped to 50.8 percent of the LT market in 2017 from 52 percent in 2016, according to the retail panel.
Most of that share shifted to S-rated tires (112 mph), but with only 28.4 percent of the LT tire market, S-rated tires have a long way to go to overtake R-rated tires as the sales leader, a GfK spokesman said.