CHANDLER, Ariz.Michelin North America Inc.'s BFGoodrich brand has rolled out the g-Force COMP-2 A/S all-season, ultra-high-performance replacement tire line, the successor to its g-Force Super Sport A/S stable of Z-rated tires.
BFG officials tout the COMP-2 A/S as the brand's best ultra-high-performance all-season tire ever, offering improved wet, dry and snow traction and braking performance over leading competitors.
The new line will comprise 59 W- and Z-rated sizes, with the first 33 available in April, 24 more between July and October and the final sizes coming out in the first quarter of 2016, the tire maker told reporters during a recent ride-and-drive event at the Bondurant School of High Performance Driving in Chandler.
The sizes, ranging from 16 to 22 inches in rim diameter, include a four- and six-rib tread pattern, with 70 percent of the volume being offered in the four-rib design. The tire is geared toward American muscle car fitments as well as Asian and European luxury vehicles and the tuner market, BFGoodrich said, with half of the sizes being new offerings in the auto market.
We're no longer just an American muscle brand, said Marcus Wilson, country operations marketing manager, BFGoodrich. Although that is our heritage, we are offering all of the fitments for the cool vehicles that are popular today.
The g-Force COMP-2produced at Michelin's Tuscaloosa, Ala., tire plantreplaces the Z-rated sizes in the g-Force Super Sport A/S line, Mr. Wilson said. The Super Sport A/S recently was named a top pick by Consumer Reports magazine.
H- and V-rated Super Sport sizes will continue to be available until the launch of the next-generation Advantage line in 2016, Mr. Wilson told reporters.
Michelin said the new tire line will offer best-in-class market coverage for Z-rated tires, with 89-percent market coverage overall.
Since about 2008, consumer purchase behavior has changed to the tune of 70 percent of all UHP purchases in the market are all-season, he said, citing three key reasons for the change.
The performance gap between summer and all-season is closing. It's not closed, but it's narrowing, he said.
Secondly, all-season tires typically offer a treadwear warranty, where summer products do not.
And third, in some cases, all-season tires are typically priced less than their summer counterpart.
The g-Force COMP-2 carries a 45,000-mile limited treadwear warranty, according to BFGoodrich. Average manufacturer suggested retail price for the tire will be $162.
The company claims the tire stops up to 15 feet shorter on wet roads and five feet shorter on dry roads than other tires in the category, while offering 15-percent better snow traction than its own Z-rated Super Sport A/S tire.
The tire incorporates BFG's Performance Racing Core (PRC) technologyderived directly from the company's line of competition tireswhich it said delivers responsive control during hard cornering in wet, dry and light snow conditions.
Components of PRC include the company's ETEC System (Equal Tension Containment), Dynamic Suspension System and g-Control Sidewall Inserts, which BFGood-rich said combine to provide a reinforced internal structure that increases traction and control at high speed; added sidewall stiffness to resist deflection for immediate turning response; and ride comfort.
Another key feature is UltiGrip Technology, a high-silica, cold-weather flexing compound designed with all-season traction in mind. This combined with the tire's directional tread design and V-shaped, angled lateral and longitudinal grooves work together to optimize rubber-to-road contact for dry grip, while offering efficient water evacuation, the tire maker said.
Lastly, the company has incorporated its g-Force tread technology, featuring advanced mold design and a performance tread profile that BFGoodrich said distributes stresses evenly across the tire footprint for improved wear vs. the Super Sport A/S Z-rated tires. It also helps to resist irregular wear often associated with direction tread designs, the company said.
Using large tread blocks gives the tire a more aggressive appearance, BFG said, while wrapping the tread design onto the shoulder creates the visual perception that the tire is wider with a shorter sidewall height. According to the company, the design offers functional aesthetics, providing cornering grip in addition to a more attractive appearance.
We've not weighed the importance of looks versus performance, Mr. Wilson said. What we do know is that for our core consumer, which we're calling the performance seeker, performance is key. It's great and it's awesome that it also looks cool, but it needs to perform.
That's what the BFGoodrich brand overall is built onit's built on performance, he added. That will always be our lead, and if we're able to throw in some really cool design cues that resonate with those consumers as well, that's an additional (bonus). We look to do that, but we lead with performance.
According to Mr. Wilson, BFG's marketing efforts for the new tire will include a number of ways to engage both consumers and dealers.
What's key for us is to educate our dealers and the counter salespeople because we found that they're a very critical and influential resource to consumers when making their buying decisions, Mr. Wilson said. If we can showcase to them and make it very clear how our product performs versus the competition, we think that will help them make the right recommendations for the consumer.
The firm's Are you driver enough? national tour, which kicked off this month, will include ride-and-drive events in 20 markets across the U.S. through August.
The tour will feature the g-Force COMP-2 A/S and the All-Terrain T/A KO2 tire, which BFGoodrich launched in 12 sizes last fall. The firm added 10 tire sizes to that line in March and another six in April.
In addition, BFGoodrich is looking at spiff opportunities for counter salespeople.
On the consumer end, the tire will be an eligible product in three upcoming national promotions for 2015, Mr. Wilson said. The company also is seeking to engage consumers online, via its own website and those of its dealers.
We've gathered from our research that a significant portion of (consumer) research and a significant amount of time is spent online during the buying process, Mr. Wilson said. So we need to engage them in that way. We've also learned from our research that consumers spend more time on a dealer's website versus a manufacturer's website.
As part of its marketing efforts, Michelin is pushing out g-Force COMP-2 promotional videos to its dealers to share on their websites and through social media platforms.
While Mr. Wilson did not provide sales forecasts estimates for the tire, he noted the company hopes the product is successful to the point where we have to add capacity.
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