Goodyear has mated its all-weather-optimized TripleTred tread design technology with its Fortera sport-utility vehicle tire architecture to produce a premium all-season SUV tire that complements its recently launched Fortera and Wrangler/SilentArmor product lines.
Goodyear launched the tire, the Fortera TripleTred, to a gathering in Phoenix of 200 invited tire dealers Sept. 12. Goodyear is rolling it out this month to hit the prime fall selling season, executives said.
To support the launch-its fifth new tire line in the past 18 months-Goodyear is backing the product with its most comprehensive warranty package ever, according to Todd Hershberger, marketing manager, light truck tires. This includes a 60,000-mile limited treadwear warranty, a 30-day money back trial, roadside assistance, nationwide warranty, online DOT registration and enrollment in Goodyear's garage program for service reminders.
Goodyear also plans to set up 100 ride-and-drive events in 30 selected markets around the country in the coming months for dealers and their store personnel to familiarize themselves with the new product.
Dealers attending the launch applauded this initiative, saying it helps generate enthusiasm among their employees.
The firm will support the launch with an advertising blitz that will generate 1.2 billion impressions on TV and in newspapers and magazines-including USA Today, ESPN the Magazine and Sporting News-for TripleTred technology, said Sanjay Sivanandan, vice president, Goodyear consumer tires.
The P-metric-sized Fortera TripleTred is aimed at the SUV segment, which is growing about 15 percent this year over 2004 despite the high gasoline prices, said Larry Mason, president, consumer tires.
The owners of SUVs/crossovers choose this type of vehicle ``because they want a perfect combination of style and utility,'' Mr. Sivanandan said. ``(Their) choice of an SUV says something about the freedom, dependability and confidence they seek.''
Goodyear is targeting the Michelin Cross-Terrain SUV tire-on the market since August 2000-as the No. 1 competitor in this segment.
Bridgestone/Firestone also targeted the Cross-Terrain last fall at the launch of its premium SUV tire, the Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza.
A key feature of the Fortera TripleTred for the targeted segment is its meeting the criteria for the Rubber Manufacturers Association's severe-snow certification, the ``Mountain Snowflake'' symbol, Mr. Hershberger said.
Goodyear points to the traction generated by the TripleTred's ice-zone middle tread bar, which uses volcanic sand and fiberglass fibers integrated into the compound for extra traction. The TripleTred design is a directional tread pattern.
To demonstrate the snow and ice grip of the new tire to dealers attending the Phoenix launch, Goodyear set up a low-friction parking lot slalom using a polymer-coated tarp and a liquid silicone solution, allowing dealers to experience the feel of an icy road in 90-plus degree sunny weather.
The Fortera TripleTred is strictly an aftermarket product with no original equipment plans in the immediate future, spokesmen said. It is being built at Goodyear's plants in Napanee, Ontario, and Lawton, Okla.
The tire is designed to provide traction on any type of surface in any type of weather, the company said.
The TripleTred technology was launched in 2003 with Goodyear's Assurance line of tires. TripleTred includes three tread zones to match varying road and weather conditions.
The tire features an overlay of PEN, a new polyester-like material that its producers liken to nylon and/or rayon, over the twin steel belts.
Goodyear is offering the Fortera TripleTred in 11 sizes initially, from P235/70R15 to P275/60R17, comprising two 15-inch sizes, seven 16-inch sizes and two 17-inch sizes.