DANVILLE, Va.—Although the Goodyear G397 LHS (line-haul steer) tire is new, one of its major selling points is that it's built to withstand more retread cycles than other steer tires on the market. The G397 LHS is designed ``to increase retreadability in the second or third life,'' said Goodyear's Chuck Yurkovich, manager of truck tire engineering and retread technology.
The tire maker has found that the experiences it has gained in processing retreads has yielded valuable insights into the design of new truck tires like the G397 LHS, he said.
Goodyear officials formally introduced the tire April 16 at the company's Danville, Va., manufacturing facility.
``The steer position is the most critical on the vehicle,'' said Mike Thomann, marketing director for commercial tires. ``We put this tire through more test miles than we have put any steer tire ever introduced in the Goodyear line.''
Commercial line-haul fleets in the U.S. and Canada and drivers at the company's San Angelo, Texas, test facility put more than 1 billion miles on versions of the G397 LHS.
``Our focus is really on reducing the cost per mile for our customers,'' Mr. Thomann said.
And trucks are hauling a lot of freight these days.
The trucking industry accounts for 80 percent of freight revenue in the U.S. and is growing at a faster rate than the overall economy. Production of Class 8 trucks increased 18 percent in 1998—to the highest number ever—and manufacturers expect to produce 295,000 trailers in 1999, Mr. Thomann said.
``What's really driving the performance of this tire is what's under the tread,'' Barry Petrea, marketing manager for commercial tires, said referring to what Goodyear calls ``Enhanced Casing Design'' (ECD).
Mr. Yurkovich said the G397 LHS casing incorporates a Polyamide' (nylon) belt layer over the belt package combined with super tensile steel to resist damage and protect the belts from moisture—preventing rust and corrosion.
The newly designed belt package uses thicker, stronger wire, he said, and improved wire coating will allow this tire to run about 6 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than its predecessors, also increasing casing life.
The G397 LHS features a six-rib tread design with an 18/32-inch depth. A new tread compound is designed to improve cornering, control and increase durability. Goodyear said a tear-resistant bead area and new mold shape contribute to more even wear.
The G397 LHS is currently available in two sizes—295/75R22.5 and 11R22.5—both produced at Danville. Two other sizes—285/75R24.5 and 11R24.5—made at Danville and Goodyear's Topeka, Kan., plant, will be available later this month.
Goodyear said the G397 LHS tire has been approved by all major North American truck manufacturers for original equipment fitment.
Asa Sharpe, OE medium commercial truck tire product manager, said Goodyear has forged close links with vehicle makers and other suppliers to anticipate and meet industry trends.
``This is the first time in the line-haul industry that we've really dug that deep and gone that far to get ahead of that curve,'' he said of the G397's development.
To market the product, Mr. Petrea said Goodyear will unveil a promotion later this year called ``Rolling Thunder.'' It will feature a full-fledged demo NASCAR racing car—it won't actually race—that will appear at racetracks and dealer promotions.
``Rolling Thunder is going to be our approach to bring more and more of the trucking business into Winston Cup and NASCAR,'' he said.
Goodyear is the exclusive supplier of racing tires to NASCAR's various racing series.