INDIANAPOLIS—Goodyear has introduced a Z-rated high-performance tire that it said will equal the performance of one of its current Eagle lines yet be lower in price. The Akron-based tire manufacturer made the announcement on Aug. 6, the day before NASCAR's Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Bob Toth, Goodyear's marketing manager for high-performance tires, said the Eagle HP Ultra Plus will eventually replace the Eagle GS-C, introduced in 1992.
Dealers will be able to order the new line in the fourth quarter. Mr. Toth said he hopes all 10 sizes in the initial run will be available by November at the latest. Goodyear expects eventually to add sizes for Plus Two, Plus Three and Plus Four conversions.
the manufacturer's suggested retail price for the Eagle HP Ultra Plus will be approximately 15 percent less than the current, mainstream ultra performance tire, Mr. Toth said, ``as a result of technical advancements in materials and component manufacturing process efficiencies.''
The new tire's 10 sizes account for more than 57 percent of sales in the Z-rated ultra-high-performance market, according to figures from the Rubber Manufacturers Association in Washington.
Included will be the two most common sizes for two popular domestic performance cars—the P245/50ZR16 for the Chevrolet Camaro and the 245/45ZR17 for the Ford Mustang.
Mr. Toth said this market segment, which represents about 7 percent of Goodyear's performance tire sales, is expected to generate sales of about 1.6 million units for the industry in 1999. Sales in this category have increased 16.6 percent since 1996, he added.
Marco Molinari, Goodyear's vice president, sales and marketing, North American Tire, said the lower pricing will make this tire attractive to young people who are ``just getting into a Mustang or just getting into a Camaro on their way up to a Corvette.''
The new line ``offers a wide range of young drivers the opportunity to own an Eagle,'' he added.
The total North American market for H-rated or higher performance tires is about 65 million units, and Mr. Molinari estimated Goodyear's share at about one-quarter of that.
According to Goodyear, the Ultra Plus features a ``multi-polymer'' tread compound and a symmetrical tread design—meaning it can be used on either side of a car. A spiral overlay and dual steel belt construction provide cornering grip and high-speed durability.
Mr. Toth said the tire meets or exceeds the performance of the GS-C in every category except for hydroplaning and has a UTGC tread rating of 340 compared with 320 for the GS-C.
Mr. Toth said sales of the GS-C began to slump in 1998. By the middle of that year, Goodyear engineers began work on a new tire that would use the tread design of the Eagle HP.
Although it typically takes about three years, from conception to production, for a new tire to reach market, he said Goodyear cut that time in half for the Ultra Plus, which ``joins the Eagle F1 to literally blanket the offerings for the ultra performance segment.''
The new tire will be produced at Goodyear's Union City, Tenn., plant.