The decision makers at Kumho Tire USA Inc. know what it takes to generate excitement at the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo: Display the biggest tire and wheel package, and they will come.
Show attendees flocked to Kumho's booth to get up close and personal with the largest light truck/sport-utility tire and wheel package on display-a prototype 28-inch size.
While even the Kumho execs admitted the 28-inch size is too large to fit current production vehicles, the same is not true for the 24- and 26-inch versions of its ECSTA STX light truck tires unveiled by the company at the show.
``Plus sizing on SUVs has been top of mind because it's very visible and profitable for dealers,'' said Rick Brennan, Kumho's high performance brand manager. ``There's been a trend toward 20-, 22-, 23-, 24- and 26-inch sizes. Kumho's continuing that trend because we're trying to be a leader in that segment.''
Along with the new STX sizes, Kumho announced several size additions to its current product offerings during the show.
Kumho said it designed the 24- and 26-inch ECSTA STX sizes to provide the load-carrying capacity needed for vehicles such as the Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon Denali, Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition.
The additions expand the range of the tire line-which Kumho introduced at last year's SEMA/ITE in sizes to fit 18- to 23-inch rim diameters.
``The vehicles that tuners are modifying are getting bigger, so the wheel and tires are also getting bigger,'' Mr. Brennan said. ``The 24- and 26-inch STX provide the same high speed, durability, exceptional wear and good ride comfort as other STX sizes.''
The STX features an aggressive, directional tread pattern and two full-depth circumferential grooves, which combined with a center-to-shoulder groove removes water from beneath the footprint to reduce hydroplaning, the company said.
The tire will be available in 23 sizes ranging from 255/60R15 to 305/30R36. Of the new sizes, the 24-inch versions are currently available, while the 26-inch sizes will be offered in the spring.
Also at the show, Kumho announced two new sizes for its ECSTA MX run-flat tire, 245/45R17 and 275/40R18, which will be available this spring.
In addition, the company is adding a tuner size, 215R35/18, to the ECSTA Supra 712. The company is ``going after the import tuner market, which is moving to 18-inch (sizes),'' he said of this latest addition to the line.
Kumho also will begin adding 14 sizes, in 16- and 17-inch rim diameters, to its ECSTA 716 HP4 high performance touring line starting in the first quarter. With these new sizes, the line will run from 195/65R14 to 275/40R17 and ``will give dealers a line of tires that has 90 percent of the sizes for the performance market,'' Mr. Brennan said.
For the all-terrain vehicle market, Kumho will introduce the Road Venture AT KL41 in broad range of flotation and LT metric sizes. Offered this spring, the tire will feature an aggressive tread with larger tread blocks, he said.