With a new tire in its Eagle performance lineup, Goodyear also introduced tires under its Dunlop and Kelly brands-both of which the tire maker has sought to bolster in recent years.
Under the Kelly brand, Goodyear introduced the Navigator Touring Gold, a premium touring tire that carries a 60,000-mile limited treadwear warranty. The tire is available in 17 H- and V-rated sizes, ranging from 15- to 17-inch rim diameters. Additional sizes are planned for the second half of the year.
Chris Magana, marketing manager for the Kelly brand, said the tire is targeted toward consumers whose vehicles require speed-rated tires, yet they still want low noise and high mileage.
Larry Mason, president of consumer tires, said Goodyear will turn more attention to Kelly.
``It's a fair observation the last couple years that our priority was to put all of our technology and all of our emphasis into Goodyear as the top priority,'' he said. ``And while we continue to improve Kelly, probably (we) didn't keep it as fresh as we would have if we were in a different position. So we've committed to the Kelly dealers that we're bringing that back.''
One part of that plan is the new Fierce line of entry-level tuner tires. Goodyear launched three Fierce tires-the ST (sport truck), UHP (ultra-high performance) and HP (high performance)-in three, 20 and 16 sizes, respectively. This year Goodyear will add nine sizes to the HP, 10 to UHP and 13 to ST.
The Fierce tires will replace the Kelly Evo Z, Charger HPT and, in some channels, the Ultra HPR, Goodyear said. The changes will occur over the next six months.
Though the line is under Kelly's umbrella, it will only be marketed under the Fierce name, Mr. Magana said. ``For Goodyear there's a whole segment that we're missing,'' he said, referring to the entry-level tuner market.
Goodyear eventually will offer more tires under the line, he added.
Clark Smith, co-owner of Elliott Tire & Service, a nine-outlet dealership in the Seattle area, said he's excited about the Fierce line. He said Goodyear has needed an entry-level tuner product, and his dealership is getting more involved in the tuner market. ``We're basically just scratching the surface,'' he said.
Marketing for Fierce primarily will be through point-of-sale materials and some magazine and newspaper ads, Mr. Magana said.
But John De Leonibus, president of D&D Tire Co. Inc., in Hyattsville, Md., said he hopes Goodyear puts a concerted effort into marketing the name. For instance, Goodyear showed a hip hop video to dealers, and he wishes the video will be used more-unlike similar materials for the Kelly Evo Z.
``They marketed (the Evo Z) here, but after the dealer conference it sort of dropped off, you didn't hear any more from them,'' he said. ``Now it looks like they're trying one more time to revamp it and market it toward that demographic, so we'll try it again and see if it works.''
Mr. Mason said the advertising will be retailer-centric.
``Fierce won't be a heavily advertised brand,'' he told tire trade journalists. ``We'll support it so that it's got credibility in store and in the right media, but it's really the kind of brand that retailers can project as his entry into the business.''
Mr. De Leonibus said, however, that tuner tires represent only about 10 to 15 percent of his business, so most of his advertising funds go toward pushing his bread and butter light truck and sport-utility truck products.
For the Dunlop brand, Goodyear launched two tires, a winter performance tire and an all-season tire for luxury passenger cars.
The Signature all-season tire will be available starting in February in 28 sizes, ranging from 14- to 17-inch rim diameters with T, H and V speed ratings.
The SP WinterSport 3D, which will replace some sizes of the M3 winter tire, is designed as a winter performance tire that provides traction on both snowy or icy roads and cold, dry roads. The tire will be available in March with 22 sizes, ranging from 15- to 19-inch rim diameters with H through W speed ratings.
Goodyear officials touted the tires as being among eight new Dunlop products launched in the past 18 months.
Allan Young, operations manager at Benson Tire Inc. in Cornwall, Ontario, said the Dunlop lineup has improved in the past couple of years. He sells both Goodyear and Dunlop products. ``I like one as well as the other now,'' he said.