Hoping to cash in on the young, male car-enthusiast-with-disposable-income crowd, Goodyear has launched a Dunlop all-terrain light truck/sport-utility vehicle tire.
The Akron tire maker's Rover RVXT is an all-terrain performance tire that consolidates two product lines-the Dunlop Rover RV and Rover P-Metric. The tire is available in 16 sizes ranging from 15- to 17-inch diameters, with an additional 15 sizes to be rolled out in October.
With the backdrop of a light truck tire market that has grown to 26 percent of the consumer replacement tire market in 2002 from 22 percent in 1999, Warren Croyle, Dunlop marketing manager, said the Rover RVXT is designed for extreme traction, quiet ride and long treadwear.
The tire is positioned among the Goodyear Wrangler AT/S and Kelly Safari AWR and is intended to fill in gaps in the company's product line, according to Rozmond Kennon, Dunlop's director of consumer tire marketing.
The tire features a ventless mold design and is built with a circumferential subtread for better handling and on-center feel, Goodyear said. A four-rib design provides on- and off-road performance for enthusiasts who love severe off-road challenges, Mr. Kennon said.
The Rover RVXT also has an extended tread design that protects the sidewall from potential scuffing. In addition, deep lateral grooves provide extra traction in tough conditions, Goodyear said. The new tire also carries the Rubber Manufacturers Association's mountain-and-snowflake symbol designating tires that can be used in snow conditions.
Tire dealers will receive point-of-sale materials. Some dealers in ``high-opportunity markets'' also will be able to air local TV spots, Mr. Kennon said. Goodyear also is planning to sell the RVXT beyond its independent dealers and company-owned stores, he said, declining to elaborate.
The tire maker is targeting the tire at men ages 25 to 44 who are college graduates, image conscious and have annual incomes of $50,000 or more, Mr. Croyle said. This crowd is characterized as ``in-the-know'' enthusiasts who like many options on their cars and are information and knowledge savvy, he added.
They're the type of consumers who will search the Internet before making purchases and tend to drive Audi, Saab, Jaguar, Mazda, Honda, BMW, Porsche, Toyota, Lexus, Infiniti and Volkswagen vehicles, according to Mr. Kennon.
``Once we get these (enthusiasts) to buy Dunlops, the rest will follow,'' he said, referring to other consumers who will follow the lead of enthusiasts.
Goodyear said the Rover RVXT will be manufactured at its plants in Buffalo, N.Y., and Huntsville, Ala.-although Huntsville is slated to close.
Goodyear officials said it was ``premature'' to say if the Rover RVXT will be made in other plants after the Huntsville facility closes by year-end.