PHOENIX—Michelin Americas Small Tires' private and associate brand business will target the fast-growing sport compact market this year with the Riken associate brand that Michelin acquired when it bought into the Japanese tire maker Okamoto Riken in 1988.
MAST will offer an expanded range of Riken sizes for the "fashion performance market" dominated by Japanese sport compacts, according to Tom Bennett, brand manager, private and associate brand marketing.
"We think Riken is the perfect choice for the price conscious buyer in this segment," Mr. Bennett said. As a brand with an Asian heritage, Riken offers the right image for buyers in this segment.
Mr. Bennett said buyers in this segment are youthful and multi-ethnic, interested in the appearance of their vehicles. As a result, owners are apt to be big buyers of custom wheels and are looking for "edgy" tires to help them set their cars apart, he said.
The primary competitors in this sector, which is estimated to be as large as 5 million units, are the Yokohama and Nitto brands. Defining the market is elusive, a spokesman said. Dimensionally, it covers sizes up to 235 wide, 50 aspect ratio and lower and diameters of 16-19 inches.
>From a business point of view, the sport compact market represents more than $1 billion in potential customizing business, according to estimates from the Specialty Equipment Market Association.
In addition, MAST dealers should be able to benefit from partnering Riken with the BFGoodrich brand for a full performance range of products, he added.
The Riken brand will be exhibited at various SEMA and other events throughout the year, Mr. Bennett said.