Acknowledging that Goodyear has ``failed to deliver'' on building ``consistent quality'' into its tires, Goodyear's senior vice president of technology and product planning, Joe Gingo, said the company will refocus its technology efforts this year to tackling the quality issue using Six Sigma and other quality assurance methods.
``In terms of consistency-meaning dynamic balance, rim fitment, tire appearance and warranty adjustments-we have failed to deliver,'' Mr. Gingo told dealers attending Goodyear's 2003 national dealer meeting in Orlando.
Mr. Gingo pointed out quality really is a perception issue, whether it is the perception of the tire buyer, the tire dealer or the manufacturer. From a dealer perspective, quality perception arises in three areas-point of sales service, tire performance and consistency.
Mr. Gingo said Goodyear feels its products earn high marks on the first two but needs to make improvements on the latter.
Mr. Gingo's comments spoke directly to concerns by some Goodyear dealers at the conference that they were experiencing a higher-than acceptable rate of returns on some light truck/sport-utility vehicle tire lines because of customer complaints about comfort issues-vibration, harsh ride, hard to balance, etc.
``And you will see progress on this front by year's end,'' Mr. Gingo promised the dealers.
He also told dealers the company has some new products on the drawing board. Those include an H-rated, value-priced entry-level tire and a re-launch of the Wrangler line with a new aggressive-tread on/off-road light truck tire that will feature the company's ``Durawall'' puncture-resistant sidewall built with proprietary ``functionalized co-polymers'' developed by Goodyear's chemical division.
Goodyear unveiled a new line-haul steer tire, the five-rib G395 LHS, that features a pressure distribution groove at the edge of the tread that helps prevent premature wear and cupping. The tire is being built at the company's Danville, Va., plant using Goodyear's proprietary IMPACT tire-building process.
The firm also rolled out a line of tires designed specifically for the recreational vehicle market, led by the G670RV in 19.5 and 22.5-inch sizes, which offer more comfort while still delivering the required load carrying capability, according to Ted Fick, vice president, commercial tire systems. He told dealers RV shipments are expected to grow 15 percent by 2010, and encouraged them to get involved in this business segment because of the overall business possibilities: RV owners also own several other vehicles, and 60 percent of them tow a second vehicle when they travel.
Goodyear announced its ``two-piece assembly'' off-the-road tire will be commercially available around mid-year, after undergoing field-testing for the past two years, according to Tom Walker, general manager of global off-the-road tires. The first size available will be 45R57 RC-1A.