LAS VEGAS (Nov. 8, 2004) — It may have been Halloween in Las Vegas, but Goodyear wasn't playing tricks on its dealers.
Instead it provided them some candy in the form of three new Dunlop-brand tires—an ultra-high performance flagship product, a tuner tire and a light truck highway tire for luxury and crossover sport-utility vehicles.
The goal, company officials stressed at the tires' launch, is to revitalize a brand that has a historic European racing heritage and original equipment fitments on some of the world's finest automobiles but has not met expectations in the U.S.
“We are re-energizing our commitment to Dunlop, and our belief in the Dunlop brand is great,” said Jon Rich, president of Goodyear North American Tire. The goal, he said, is to build the brand's share of the North American market to 5 percent from its estimated 2.5 to 3 percent share.
The new tires, introduced to dealers and the tire trade press at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, are the ultra-high performance Dunlop SP Sport Maxx, launched earlier this year in Europe but now available in the U.S., the Direzza DZ101 tuner tire and the Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 highway light truck tire.
The three products compete in two of the fastest growing tire segments—ultra-high performance and luxury SUVs, said Andy Traicoff, director of Dunlop consumer tire marketing.
Goodyear expects the aggressive launch, along with innovative marketing programs, to help reinvigorate the brand, which has struggled since the Akron-based tire maker acquired 75-percent control of Dunlop's operations in North America and Europe in 1999 through its global alliance with Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd.
While the tire maker has focused on its Goodyear nameplate in recent years to get North American Tire and the brand back on track, “it's now time for Dunlop to take the next step,” Mr. Traicoff said.
“We're ready to move and that's why we want to do this in a big way,” he said of the Las Vegas tire launch.
In designing the SP Sport Maxx, Goodyear said it focused its research and development efforts on the tire's dry handling capabilities “because that's what sport-oriented, passionate drivers of powerful cars expect most from their tires,” said Warren Croyle, marketing manager for Dunlop consumer tires.
To achieve the desired handling requirements, Goodyear designed the tire using Dunlop's Multi Radius Tread technology, which maximizes the tire's contact area and pressure distribution under hard cornering, said Chris Raglin, Dunlop tire development engineer. Water evacuation is enhanced via Hydro-Paddles that allow water to get through the tread more efficiently, he said.
And to make the tire quieter, the tire features a five-block pitch sequence that reduces noise through frequency cancellation, Mr. Raglin said.
Goodyear is offering the SP Sport Maxx in 26 sizes, from 205/55ZR16 Y to 305/30ZR22 XL, covering 38 percent of the UHP segment, Mr. Croyle said. The tire has a UTQG rating of 240 AA and is made by Goodyear in Europe.
The Dunlop Direzza DZ101, another UHP tire, targets the fast-growing vehicle personalization segment—that is, car enthusiasts who bolt on aftermarket parts to make a statement.
“Tires such as the Direzza are important to these drivers, but there's plenty of competition for their disposable income,” Mr. Croyle said.
Developed as a complement to Dunlop's other tuner tire, the SP Sport FM901, the Direzza was designed with Dunlop's Digital Rolling Simulation II technology to reduce pattern noise and improve wear uniformity. This was accomplished by optimizing the angle and distribution of grooves on the tire, according to Ben Hyder, Dunlop account engineer.
Digital Rolling Simulation technology simulates driving a vehicle with tires while in the early stages of design reproducing tire behavior and road conditions digitally, Goodyear said.
Sumitomo is making the Direzza in Japan for Goodyear as part of their joint alliance. Goodyear is offering the tire in 12 sizes, bringing the company's coverage of the sport compact market to 75 percent, Mr. Croyle said. The tire has a UTQG rating of 300 AA.
In the light truck tire segment, the Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 is a tire Goodyear describes as having “a macho, aggressive appearance with refined dynamics.”
Designed for the booming luxury SUV market, the Grandtrek AT20 is a hybrid tire—a cross between a passenger car and light truck tire, Mr. Croyle said.
“Owners of luxury SUVs want to be pampered with a quiet, comfortable ride, but they also expect a high level of performance, control and style,” Mr. Croyle added.
The tire was designed using Versa Load Technology, which gives predictability under a variety of conditions, Mr. Hyder said.
The tire's tread features full-depth interlocking cross-cut grooves to provide all-season traction and control in inclement weather. Deep lateral grooves also enhance wet grip and snow traction, Mr. Hyder said.
Originally designed in Japan, Goodyear said it has re-engineered the Grandtrek AT20 for the North American market.
The Grandtrek AT20 carries a UTQG rating of 500 AB and comes with a 60,000 limited treadwear warranty. It is available in 21 sizes. Goodyear will make the tire at its Fayetteville, N.C., Union City, Tenn., and Valleyfield, Quebec, plants.
Paul Pittner, director of purchasing for Dunn Tire Corp., in Buffalo, N.Y., said he's excited to see Goodyear putting life back into the Dunlop brand.
“As a former Dunlop employee, I'm very pleased to see the efforts and everything they're putting into the re-establishment of the brand,” he said.