A Tennessee company has introduced a new gripping system designed to get vehicles out of snow, mud and sand.
Mike Stollings, president of Flex-Trax Inc. in Piney Flats, said the device, dubbed ``GoClaws,'' is a set of interlocking grips made of a rubber-like plastic material patented as Duratanium. Three grips are installed on a tire, giving it patches of traction for various conditions, the company said.
The grips can be installed on a tire in a couple minutes, the company claimed, and vehicles don't have to be moved or jacked. A promotional video produced by the company demonstrates a user installing the grips on a van that lost traction in snow. The grips are manufactured by East Coast Plastics Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The primary gripping feature of GoClaws, Mr. Stollings said, is the gripping chambers in the tracks that expel snow and other materials. A main problem with snow tires, he said, is that the tire's tread gets packed in, losing its grip. GoClaws, he claimed, offers a ``whole different approach'' to traction. The devices also are self-tensioning to stay tight around the tire, even if it's underinflated.
The tire grips were formally launched in the U.S. in November, though they've been available in Canada under the name SnoClaws and are sold there exclusively through some 450 Canadian Tire Corp. stores. Eventually the product will be known everywhere as GoClaws to highlight its abilities in more than just snow, Mr. Stollings said. The company also has launched a Web site for the product at www.goclaws.com.
Flex-Trax, which was formed in 1997, is looking for a U.S. distributor to handle the product. Mr. Stollings said he is looking for deals with major retailers and ``significant'' distributors. He added that the company hopes to market GoClaws to a variety of markets beyond passenger cars, such as emergency crews, UPS and FedEx, industrial or waste users and other commercial segments.
``Our marketplace is extremely diverse, not only in the states but internationally,'' he said, adding the company is working on an agreement with a distributor in Australia to market GoClaws to 4x4 users.
The product is available in three sizes each for consumer and commercial tires. Each size of GoClaws covers about 30 tire sizes, he said.
The grips are sold in sets of six, or three per tire, though some of the larger, industrial sizes use more tracks per tire. Flex-Trax recommends placing the grips on the two front or back tires, depending if the vehicle is rear-wheel or front-wheel drive. For off-roading or severe weather, it's recommended that four sets of grips be used on some sport-utility vehicles or all-wheel-drive cars, the company said.
The list price for a set of six tracks for two consumer tires ranges from $169.95 to $269.95. For the commercial market, the price ranges from $169.95 to $349.95.
Asked how tire retailers could convince customers to spend the money on these grips, Mr. Stollings said salespeople should highlight that GoClaws are easy to use, work in an emergency situation, don't require a jack or extensive car knowledge and come off easily.
``We believe...it's going to revolutionize traction (control),'' he told Tire Business.
The grips can be run on paved roads up to about 30 mph, according to the company said. Mr. Stollings said he is conducting tests to determine how long they can be used on roads, though for now he's just saying for a ``limited time.''