By Bruce Davis, Tire Business staff
AKRON (April 27, 2015)— The U.S. motoring public's thirst for performance — exemplified by the resurgence in interest in muscle cars, hot hatches and tuning — is reflected in an accelerating shift to performance tires, both in the OE and replacement market segments.
According to the latest figures from the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA), every second tire shipped to an assembly plant in the U.S. last year was H, V or Z speed rated and every third passenger tire shipped to the aftermarket was similarly speed rated.
In both cases, shipments of speed-rated tires last year jumped by double-digit percentages over 2013.
At OE, 2014 was the fifth straight year of double-digit growth of shipments of speed-rated tires to the car makers, the RMA data show.
The percentage of speed-rated tires fitted at OE is now twice what it was in 2006, and preferred OE fitments have skewed noticeably toward larger and wider. The top 10 OE sizes last year included two 20-inch and four 17-inch fitments and only one 15-inch spec, according to the RMA data.
- This story appeared in the April 27 issue of Tire Business.
It should be noted that not all of the growth in speed-rated tires at OE is necessarily muscle- or sports-car related.
A fair amount of the growth derives from car makers' specifying speed-rated tires on more standard sedans and coupes that have been outfitted with engines capable of pushing those vehicles to higher speeds, or the car makers' engineers opting for performance tires for enhanced handling.