LAS VEGAS-Yokohama Tire Corp.'s booth at the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo displayed a fender-popping 26-inch prototype light truck tire and the hot new 2002 Honda Civic Si fitted with the tire maker's newest street tuner radials.
But while these exhibits drew lots of oohs and aahs from passersby, what the Fullerton, Calif., tire maker really was showing off was the slew of tires it plans to introduce during the coming year. These included models for just about every moving vehicle made today, from the next-generation Parada Spec-2, for street tuners, to an off-the-road tire for underground mining operations.
Yokohama also displayed the new AVS ES100 economy ultra-high-performance line, the Guardex 721 studless snow tire and the Geolandar H/T-S, a sport-utility vehicle line designed for a variety of on-road applications.
And despite the show's emphasis on the passenger, light truck and sport-utility vehicle markets, the tire maker even showcased its newest long-haul drive and trailer tires.
The first new product Yokohama will unveil in 2002 is the Parada Spec-2, set for launch in January. ``With the street-tuner market you always want a fresh face,'' said Rick Brennan, the tire maker's director of marketing communications, who described the new lines during a tour of the booth.
With the Parada Spec-2, Yokohama has stepped up the performance level and changed the tread compound to improve wet and dry grip, Mr. Brennan said.
The Z-rated tire retains the tread design of the first-generation Parada, including massive diagonal tread blocks that lay more rubber on the road and enhance grip, Yokohama said. The tread also features S-shaped tread grooves that help evacuate water. A variable tread depth adds stability and reduces squirm during cornering and lateral acceleration.
To help protect expensive wheels from potholes and curbs, the Parada Spec-2 also features a rim protector bar.
Yokohama has added three sizes to the Parada Spec-2 lineup-205/40ZR16, 215/35ZR19 and 225/35ZR19-for 11 sizes in all. The tire carries a UTQG rating of 300 and ratings of AA for traction and A for temperature.
Next April, Yokohama will introduce the AVS ES100, an economy-priced ultra-high-performance tire replacing the AVS Intermediate and A520, Mr. Brennan said.
The AVS ES100 features a high-technology silica cap compound that keeps the tread rubber pliable at low temperatures. Combined with a heat-resistant base compound, the tire offers a high level of grip, wear and durability, Yokohama said.
To evacuate water, the tread pattern combines two unidirectional cross grooves with two circumferential center channels that work together to force water out.
The AVS ES100 will be offered in three speed ratings-H for 60-series sizes, V for 50-series/15-inch sizes and W for 16-inch sizes and larger. The tire has a UTQG rating of 280, with AA for traction and A for temperature.
Yokohama also is replacing the high-performance sizes of its Guardex snow tire with a new tire that features improved micro-pore technology, Mr. Brennan said.
Available to dealers now in nine sizes, the Guardex 721 employs Yokohama's shelled micro-bubble technology to reduce tread squirm for better dry-pavement handling while retaining the tire's snow and ice traction. Yokohama began shipping this tire to dealers in September for the upcoming snow season.
The new Geolandar H/T-S, which will be introduced in next year's fourth quarter, is designed for consumers who use their SUV on the road all the time, he said. The line encompasses three designs for three types of applications: standard fitment for original equipment upgrades; inch-up fitments for consumers wanting a performance look; and load-range E for heavy-duty light truck commercial use.
With tire dealers facing a growing number of sizes and lines to service the SUV market, ``we have created one line that covers a large portion of the marketplace that in the past was covered by different tires,'' Mr. Brennan said.
Yokohama will offer the standard fitment version of the Geolandar H/T-S in 70- and 75-series P-metric sizing, along with LT metric and flotation sizes, he said. The load-range E version will offer a modified tread design and construction for use in pickup-and-delivery operations, while the inch-up fitments will have a tread design that presents a performance look.
``For a tire dealer, if we can make it simple for him to carry the product he needs for the consumer, it's easier for him to do business,'' Mr. Brennan said. The Geolandar H/T-S will replace the Geolander H/T.
Yokohama also displayed its latest medium truck radials including the RY587 long-haul trailer tire and the TY527 long-haul drive tire, the latter featuring the deepest tread depth available on a line-haul tire-1 inch, he said.
Demand for longer mileage has driven tire makers to develop truck tires with deeper tread depths, up to 30/32 inch, but to go even deeper has resulted in heat problems, he explained. Deeper tread blocks also tend to move, creating wear. To overcome these shortcomings, Yokohama developed a new base compound in the TY527 that dissipates heat while providing a cap compound that reduces tread squirm.
The TY527 also features a directional tread design that prevents tread block movement. Currently available in size 295/75R22.5, Yokohama plans to add three more sizes by mid 2002-285/75R24.5, 11R22.5 and 11R24.5.
Yokohama also will introduce the RY587 long-haul trailer tire in next year's third quarter as a replacement for the RY112. The tire, which will be offered in the same sizes as the TY527, features a five-rib design and a special defense groove at the edge of the tread to reduce free-rolling wear.
For underground mining vehicles, Yokohama has developed the Y694 tire, offering better durability and resistance to sidewall scuffing. It features a wavy sidewall consisting of ribs made of a new, hard composite material. ``This protects the tire against cutting, which is a big issue in underground mining,'' Mr. Brennan said.