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Published on February 16, 2004

New tires, new energy at Goodyear

It's too early to know what impact Goodyear's new Assurance line of tires will have on the firm's bottom line.

But the launch of this new tire is a welcome shot in the arm for a company that hasn't had much to shout about in recent years.

Until now most of Goodyear's turnaround efforts have centered on cutting costs, rearranging loans, improving efficiency, bettering fill rates and mending relations with dealers. They're all important areas that must be addressed if the company is to return to profitability in North America-but not very exciting.

What really gets people talking are hot new products, something that's been lacking at Goodyear lately.

The new Assurance tires-the premium ComforTred, offering a softer and quieter ride, and the all-season TripleTred, with a pattern of three tread zones to handle icy, wet and dry pavements-are two products that have the potential to grab customers' attention and help dealers move rubber out the door.

For the past two years, Good-year management has had little to offer but mea culpas and pleas for patience as they put their turnaround plan into action.

Now, with many of its financial and efficiency programs in place, with new tires in the pipeline and with an aggressive marketing and advertising campaign in the offing, Goodyear seems poised to start reporting positive results.

Still, nothing motivates dealers more than new products that give them something to talk about and that will draw customers into their showrooms.

If the new Assurance tires do this, Goodyear will have assured itself a winner.

Do aging

study first

The tire industry can breathe a sigh of relief now that Sen. Mike DeWine has withdrawn his bill requiring that retailers give consumers the month and year of manufacture for every tire they sell.

As proposed, the bill would have created huge point-of-sale problems for retail tire dealers. Before-or if-it's ever reconsidered, we believe testing should first be carried out on the effects aging actually has on tires. While the senator's legislation called for age testing, it had no provision stipulating this be completed first.

Without a clear understanding of what happens to a tire as it ages, tire dealers would have been put in the uncomfortable position of having to explain to customers what the date of manufacture means. One can imagine confused customers requesting the newest, freshest tires available, being unsatisfied with ``older'' tires and questioning why the four they just bought have four different dates of manufacture.

The tire industry and public are better served by a well-thought-out bill that protects both.

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