AKRON—In the midst of the hot summer, it may be hard to realize that in a few months (in the northern regions) customers will be pulling into the dealership with their high-performance vehicles and deciding whether to purchase ultra-high-performance (UHP) winter tires to maintain the driving attributes to which they've grown accustomed over the summer.
As UHP tires are showing up as OE fitments on more and more vehicles, the UHP winter tire segment appears to be maintaining stable demand, according to tire makers.
The UHP winter tire caters to owners of high-end, high performance vehicles that run on V-, W- and Y-rated summer tires. It's a low-volume niche as "touring" claims a larger market with the more common T- and H-rated tires.
"When we look at the demand in the volume, most of it is in the (Michelin) X-Ice, or touring, by large amounts," said Ron Margadonna, Michelin North America Inc.'s winter tire expert.
"That's where our largest concentration is in winter appeal. We certainly do not ignore the vehicles that are high-performance that want a high-performance tire… Both of those are probably growing with the market. We're not seeing any unusual spikes or blips, as they say. Let's just say it's more of a stable market growth for the coming years. We're not seeing anything on the horizon that would give it a spike….