When it comes to tires and wheels, bigger is better, at least at the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo in Las Vegas.
Continuing a trend over the past few years, tire companies rolled out some of their newest and often biggest tires for the throngs that packed the trade show floor.
And this year's winner in terms of size: a 30-inch by 10-inch concept wire wheel with 180 24-karat gold-plated spokes on display at the Dayton Wheel Concepts booth that featured a hand-carved Goodyear display tire in size 285/35R30.
But the award for the largest commercially available road-worthy tire went to Kumho Tire USA, which displayed a prototype 28-inch version of its Ecsta STX light truck radial, available in July.
And while it didn't quite match the Kumho radial in terms of size, Pirelli Tire North America Inc. introduced a 25-inch version of its Scorpion Zero tire designed specifically for the Hummer H2.
Following are some of the new tires introduced during the show:
Bridgestone/Firestone unveiled five new tire lines as well as several size additions to existing lines.
The new W- and Y-speed rated Potenza RE050 tire will be available in February in 33 sizes, 21 of which are original equipment fitments. Thirteen of those fitments are for run-flats, and 12 sizes are new to the replacement market.
In March, BFS will launch the Insignia SE 200, a Bridgestone mass market tire in 29 sizes. The tire already has OE fitments on the Chevy Malibu and Toyota Corolla, and officials said the tread pattern will be the same on OE and replacement versions.
A Potenza G009 will debut in April to replace the Bridgestone Eager and Potenza RE910 lines in the ``better'' category. The H-rated tire will be available in 24 sizes.
BFS also will launch the Grenadier PLE touring tire in May under its associate brands in 21 sizes.
The tire will carry an 80,000-mile limited treadwear warranty. Also under an associate label, BFS recently launched the Winterforce line of winter tires with 33 sizes.
For the Firestone brand, BFS is adding a Destination A/T tire in 26 sizes, including both P-metric and light truck versions.
The tire maker also announced size additions to existing lines, most notably two 20-inch applications to the Bridgestone Dueler H/P tire line: P275/45R20 106V and P275/55R20 111S, which will be available in the spring of 2004.
Other additions will be coming in the Turanza LS, Potenza RE950, Dueler A/T Revo, Dueler A/T and others.
Goodyear featured some recently released tires at its booth as well as prototypes for a 24-inch Fortera light truck tire and a 20-inch Kelly Signature HPT sport truck tire. But the tire maker did not officially launch any products under the Goodyear name.
Under its Dunlop brand, the tire maker launched two racing tires plus a new light truck tire.
The SP Sport Inferno is a street-legal competition radial drag tire available in size 205/50R15 in the first quarter of 2004. The Dunlop SP Super Sport Race extreme high-performance Z-rated tire is a non-competition, DOT-legal tire. The tire is available in eight sizes from select race tire distributors. Dunlop also showcased the Rover RVXT, an all-terrain performance tire, in 31 sizes, ranging from 15- to 17-inch rim diameters.
Finally, under its Kelly brand, Goodyear introduced 12 new sizes in its Navigator Platinum TE and five new sizes for the Charger HPT. The Navigator's sizes range from 14- to 17-inch rim diameters, and the Charger's new sizes include 18- and 19-inch diameters.
Hankook Tire America Corp. did not officially launch any new products at the SEMA/ITE show, but the tire maker displayed eight high- and ultra-high performance tires that are in various stages of development and could outline the next year's new offerings.
A spokesman said the first of the launches could come in January, with ``rapid fire'' introductions following in the first and second quarters. The display tires included possible additions to the Ventus, Mileage Plus, Optimo and DynaPro tire lines.