The North American market for ultra-high-performance tires may be changing, but demand remains strong, according to representatives of tire companies with a strong UHP presence.
Demand patterns for UHP tires are fluctuating, according to Andrew Briggs, vice president of marketing and product management for Yokohama Tire Corp.
"UHP as a category has actually grown—even as the vehicle trends continue to move towards CUVs—but this has actually come at the expense of more broad-line passenger car products, which have allowed both UHP and LTR to grow," Briggs said.
With the increase in OE speed-rating demands, all-season UHPs are driving growth in that market, according to Briggs.
UHP tires are the backbone of Pirelli Tire L.L.C.'s product and commercial strategy, the Italian tire maker said.
"We concentrate most of our effort and get our growth from that segment," Pirelli said. "According to our estimates it continues to grow, albeit at a slower pace than last year."
Figures taken from the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association and the U.S. Department of Commerce show strong growth for HP tires in both original equipment and replacement markets.
H-rated tires, approved for speeds of up to 130 mph, nearly tripled in OE demand between 2010 and 2017 to 16 million units from 5.9 million.
Demand for V-rated tires, approved for speeds of up to 149 mph, also showed strong OE growth between 2010 and 2017, increasing more than 5 percent a year to 6.2 million units from 4.5 million. Z-rated tires, approved at 149 mph and above, were shipped in more modest numbers but still grew impressively at nearly 17.5 percent a year to 3 million units from 900,000.