MIAMI—Pirelli Tire North America Inc. is launching several new tires this year, including an addition to its ultra-high-performance P Zero line that the company hopes will help it achieve a 25-percent share of the UHP tire market worldwide. The tire maker has developed the P Zero Rosso tire ("Rosso" is Italian for "red") to complete its existing P Zero collection, which includes the original P Zero (Yellow) and the Scorpion Zero light truck tire.
Pirelli also introduced the Cinturato P3000 M+S all-season radial, a new Scorpion S/T light truck tire and the Winter Snowsport winter tire during its Jan. 26-28 dealer meeting in Miami.
Of all the products, the P Zero Rosso was by far Pirelli's most highly touted tire, as the company reaffirmed its commitment to leading the industry in original equipment high-performance and UHP tires.
Francesco Gori, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Pirelli S.p.A., noted that UHP tires are the fastest growing segment for both the OE and replacement markets with an expected annual growth rate of 15 to 20 percent. Nearly 300 tire sizes around the world currently are V- or Z-rated, he said.
The tire maker anticipates worldwide UHP tire sales to grow to $5.6 billion by 2003, or 18 percent of the total passenger tire market.
Pirelli's UHP tire sales reached approximately $945 million in 1999, or 21 percent of the total UHP tire market. The company expects its UHP tire sales to grow to approximately $1.4 billion in 2003, or a market share of 25 percent.
The P Zero Rosso, which also is available to the replacement market, will fit the Audi TT and Audi RS4 as OE and currently is being tested by Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes and Porsche, Pirelli said. The choice of red as the tire's distinguishing color symbolizes the love of driving fast cars, Pirelli said. Hence, the Rosso's sidewall features the P Zero brand name in red letters, much like the original P Zero tire has its name in yellow on the sidewall.
The new tire offers sports car owners a more comfortable, quiet ride than the P Zero Yellow and is designed to offer improved aquaplaning resistance, said Paul Hembery, Pirelli's technical manager in Italy. The car makers asked Pirelli to enhance those features yet maintain the same wet- and dry-handling capabilities as the P Zero Yellow, he said.
To achieve those specifications, Pirelli constructed the tire with wider longitudinal grooves to evacuate water and a multi-pitch pattern that reduces noise, Mr. Hembery said.
Weight reduction was a primary goal in developing the P Zero Rosso, Pirelli said. This was achieved by using new materials, including aramid fiber pulp in the tread compound, three-strand steel cord that is 20-percent lighter and more tension-resistant than traditional cord, and a belt of Pentec, a high-performance polymer, in addition to the steel belt.
The tire is Y-rated for speeds up to 182 mph and is available in two tread patterns: asymmetrical and directional. It is offered in 27 30- to 55-series sizes to fit 16- to 21-inch rims.
Tire dealers and trade journalists attending Pirelli's meeting got to see the P Zero Rosso up close and personal at the Homestead International Speedway in Homestead, Fla.
At the track, dealers test drove P Zero Rossos on wet and dry pavement and on slalom-style courses to see how well the tire performed during braking and cornering.
Each drive pitted the P Zero Rosso either against P Zero Yellow or vs. a competitor's tire, such as the Michelin Pilot Sport and Goodyear Eagle. Dealers got to compare the tire's performance results on several luxury vehicles—the Mercedes CLK 430, BMW Z3 and 540i, Porsche 996 C4 and Audi TT.
Among its other new tires, Pirelli's T-rated Cinturato P3000 comes with an 85,000-mile limited treadwear warranty. It features 23 sizes with aspect ratios from 55 to 70 to fit 13- to 16-inch rims. The tire's long treadlife is the result of an all-synthetic tread compound in combination with a narrower central groove, flatter tread profile and wider arc width, according to Pirelli.
The Scorpion S/T has a 50,000-mile limited treadwear warranty and is available in 25 metric, P-metric, LT-metric and flotation sizes, with speed ratings from Q to H, to fit 15- to 18-inch rims. It has gained OE fitments with Ford Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Land Rover, said Mauro Pessi, Pirelli's vice president of marketing in North America.
Pirelli's Winter Snowsport, launched in Europe seven months ago, is now available to North American dealers. It comes in 35 H-rated and 11 V-rated sizes to fit 15- to 18-inch rims.
Pirelli also announced that it will have a Scorpion Zero tire that fits 20-inch rims available for U.S. dealers in June.