AKRON (June 22, 2016) — That old cliché that tires are just round and black has been the bane of the tire industry for years.
Tire dealers often have a hard time selling expensive high-performance tires to middle-class consumers who always are looking for a good deal and competitive pricing.
But the reality is that designing a tire today is an expensive, complicated proposition for tire makers. The North American market, and especially OEMs, demand that round rubber object be fuel efficient, recyclable, environmentally sustainable, durable, quiet, with premium road handling and braking capabilities yet — and here's the clincher: be affordable to the average consumer.
That's a pretty tall order for tire makers as they address this chall¬enge at their research and development centers, many of which are located in the U.S. and in particular the Akron area.
In the June 20 print issue, Tire Business looks at the growing number of R&D centers that are opening up and expanding in the U.S. to facilitate tire designs that address the unique needs of the North American market.
Tire dealers are benefiting and will continue to benefit from this phenomenon.
Their stores are the final destination for new technologies that, in many cases, began as concepts years earlier at these R&D centers.
Understanding and communicating the benefits, differences, performance and costs of tires is going to become more important in the years to come as the industry adjusts to increased demand globally for tires, and from expanding middle class populations in China, India and beyond.
These changes likely will drive many internal changes in tires as manufacturers move away from petrochemical-based raw materials to meet the expected surge in tire demand and turn to more sustainable materials. Driving also is expected to change as autonomous vehicles become more prevalent.
Tires are a technological marvel that few people understand and appreciate, and it's the R&D people who create and develop these products.
But it's the dealers, talking with customers at the service counter and on the telephone, who must address what all of this new technology means — and how it will affect tire performance, handling, tread life, comfort and, bottom line, the cost.
The more tire dealers bone up on all the technologies and attributes that go into the design of the tires they sell, and actually understand and appreciate it, the better they will be at explaining this to their customers.
And help them get beyond that “round and black” cliché.
This editorial appears in the June 20 print edition of Tire Business. Have an opinion on it? Send your comments, or a letter to the editor, to [email protected]. Please include your name, title, company's official name and the city and state where it's located, along with an email address and daytime phone number for verification purposes.