LAS VEGAS-Saying it was time for a change, even for a tried and true product, Goodyear's Kelly Tire unit is moving forward with a new Charger tire.
The new design features what Kelly calls a ``switchback tread''-when wet, the tire's three wide circumferential grooves sweep water away for better wet traction.
Goodyear unveiled the new model during the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas. It features the same white sidewall design as the Charger SR, which was introduced in 1994.
``It was a tough decision,'' said Jack Winterton, general marketing manager for the Kelly brand. ``It was a fabulous performing tread design, but it was getting a little long in the tooth. We wanted to get that `H' look.''
Mr. Winteron said the new tire indeed has that appearance, even though it is not an H-rated tire-at least for now. He said Kelly anticipates the Charger will be available in all load ranges and types.
The new tire, he added, has an aesthetic similarity to the old one. Brand loyalists will appreciate the similar sidewall design, while dealers will be able to help customers make an easier transition to a new model because its look is similar to the older Charger.
In addition to the tire's ``clean'' appearance, Kelly said it offers a quiet ride, uniform treadwear and transitional stability.
Other changes include an increase in tread warranty from 50,000 to 55,000 miles. Buyers also will be afforded a 30-day test drive program. Kelly has pledged to replace the Chargers if drivers are not satisfied with them, but they must be replaced with other Kelly tires.
Mr. Winterton said the new model will be sold for 3 percent more than the former model. But in a cost-per-mile comparison with the warranty, the increase actually represents a reduction in price.
The Chargers are available in 22 sizes in the 50-, 60-, 65- and 70-series, Kelly said, with a T speed rating in black sidewall sizes and an S rating in white sidewall versions. Euro-metric sizing makes it ideal for fitment on cars and light trucks, according to the company.
The tire carries a UTQG rating of 500 AB, up from 440 AB, Kelly said. Point-of-sale brochures, posters and window stickers will be available for dealers.