Toyo Tire (U.S.A.) Corp. said it is raising the bar in the low-profile passenger tire market with the introduction of two 24-inch sizes for its Proxes 4 ultra-high performance tire.
The Cypress-based tire maker is offering sizes 255/30R24 and 275/30R24, which it said are ideal for even or stagger fitments.
Calling the 24-inch tires a ``technological breakthrough,'' the company said they are a result of a ``Generation S'' silica-reinforced tread-compound working in concert with Toyo's T-Mode Design Technology.
The Proxes 4 features a directional ``W-shaped'' tread design with a curved center rib to help channel water, Toyo said.
Via its DSOC II (Dynamic Simulation Optimized Contact) computer technology, Toyo said it developed a five-variable pitch tread design to reduce tread noise caused by harmonics during operation on various road surfaces.
A hard bead filler compound integrated with two full-width steel belts produces a precise steering response, yet maintains a manageable ride, the company added.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. launched the Zeon Sport A/S all-season W-rated tire at the SEMA Show.
The tire will be available Jan. 1 in 16-, 17- and 18-inch rim diameters.
For an added touch, Cooper molded ``Cooper Zeon'' in the font of its newly unveiled logo in the tire tread.
Goodyear's Dunlop brand launched several products under its Direzza line-including the first Direzza racing slicks-in Las Vegas, where its booth focused on high performance.
Dunlop unveiled the Direzza GRP street-legal drag race tire and a Direzza bias-ply drag slick plus 22 new sizes of the Direzza DZ101 and a 24-inch Grandtrek PT9000 high-performance tire for sport trucks.
Andy Traicoff, director of Dunlop marketing in North America, told Tire Business that Goodyear is rebranding its Dunlop SP Sport racing slicks to the Direzza name, promoting Direzza as a ``sub-brand'' under Dunlop for racing tires.
The Direzza GRP is for entry- and mid-level racers while the drag slick is available in both front- and rear-wheel-drive versions for pro drag racers in the sport compact and custom race car classes, such as those sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA), International Drag Racing Association (IDRA) and Number One Parts Inc. (NOPI).
The tires, which are to be made at Goodyear's Akron Technical Center race tire plant, will be available starting in early 2006 through authorized race tire distributors, Goodyear said.
Dunlop also broadened the range of the Direzza DZ101-``a performance tire with no manners,'' according to Mr. Traicoff-to 34 sizes to replace the FM901 line for sport-compact tuners.
Engineered and built in Japan for sport compact tuner cars, the Direzza DZ101 is targeted at the fast-growing vehicle personalization segment-those who bolt on aftermarket parts to make a statement.
``Sport compact starts small, but thinks big. That's what we had to achieve with the Direzza,'' Mr. Traicoff said in a separate statement.
``With the popularity of sport compacts and the sport of drifting flowing from Asia to North America, the Direzza expansion was a natural extension.''
According to Dunlop research, auto enthusiasts buy up to 10 percent of U.S. replacement tires-22.5 million tires-to upgrade sport compacts.
In addition to the product releases, Mr. Traicoff said efforts to revitalize the Dunlop brand are reaping some rewards. Dunlop launched three new tires at last year's SEMA Show plus several marketing initiatives to boost the brand.
Mr. Traicoff said Web site traffic is up about 30 percent following new online promotions. One of these was a new program for consumers to buy tires through the Dunlop Web site and pick them up at a participating dealer.
``It's a great program, our dealers love it,'' Mr. Traicoff said.
He added that Goodyear has made many capital investments in the business to improve longtime dealer complaints about Dunlop, primarily about fill rates.
``We've brought a lot of dealers back to the fold, a lot of people who historically had sold Dunlop and a lot of new customers,'' he said. ``It's really been refreshing to get kind of a resurgence on the retail side of the business.''
This year, Goodyear had a booth for only its Dunlop brand, not for Goodyear or Kelly. Mr. Traicoff said the Dunlop brand appeals more to the sport performance show with an emphasis on modifying vehicles.
Besides the new tires and a concept motorcycle with racing slicks, the Dunlop booth also featured the returning ``tread-heads'' haircuts plus a tattoo artist giving attendees various stylized permanent Dunlop tattoos in exchange for a set of tires. Mr. Traicoff said the tattoo artist's appointments for the week were booked in the first two hours of the show. The booth also featured remote-control drifting cars.
Tire Business Staff Reporter Bruce Davis contributed to this report.
By Bruce Davis
Falken Tire Corp. is launching a range of tires aimed at the steadily growing mid-range luxury sports car market.
The new range, the FK 452 series, is being targeted at owners and tuners of ``early generation luxury VIP imports and European and domestic sedans,'' the firm said at the product line's launch.
These early model chassis employ many of the sophisticated power train and suspension systems available today. Examples cited at the launch are Lexus, Infiniti, BMW 3 and 5 series, Mercedes-Benz C and S class and Audi A4 and A6.
The new tire line is designed to capitalize on the growing demands for mature automotive purists ``who understand the delicate balance of form and function,'' the firm said.
The FK 452 line covers much of what Falken's ST and FK lines did previously, said Darren Thomas, vice president of marketing.
Falken Tire, a subsidiary of Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., will roll out 53 sizes of the new line in 16- to 22-inch rim diameters in the second quarter of 2006, ranging from 205/55R16 to 285/25R22, in W, Y and Z speed ratings.
A further 19 sizes will be available starting in the third quarter.
At the SEMA presentation, the company said this segment slots in between the entry-level tuner class, dominated by front-wheel-drive imports, and the upper level luxury and exotic sports cars.
Falken has created a dedicated Web site-www.fk452.com-for the tire line, which features a directional tread pattern.
At the same time, Falken is teaming up with Japanese lifestyle marketing firm Junction Produce Co. Ltd. to ``cultivate VIP marketing'' in the U.S., Mr. Thomas said.
Junction Produce markets a range of automotive aftermarket accessories in Japan, including custom wheels and interior and exterior components.