Andrew Briggs, Yokohama Tire Corp.'s vice president of marketing and product management, discusses trends in the UHP and CUV/SUV tire market and how Yokohama is addressing those trends with new products.
Q: How has the car manufacturers' move to light trucks, SUV and CUVs impacted your product mix?
A: Light-truck tires have been a major focal point of our product initiatives over the past few years. With the introduction of the Geolandar X-AT in July, we will have completely turned our LTR line in just a few years. With seven products addressing nearly every need of the total category, we have one of the newest and most robust lineups in the industry.
Q: How has the UHP market fared in light of the proliferation of LT, SUVs and CUVs? Are you seeing growth and potential for future growth? Any new innovations in the segment?
A: UHP as a category has actually grown – even as the vehicle trends continue to move towards CUVs – but this has actually come at the expense of more broad-line passenger car products, which have allowed both UHP and LTR to grow. The growth in UHP has been driven by all-season UHP, as speed-rating demands at OE have increased, while other OEMs have de-emphasized summer tires in favor of more balanced performance all-season products. Yokohama has served this category successfully with the ADVAN Sport A/S since the end of 2014, which will be replaced with a performance upgrade in the ADVAN Sport A/S+ this September.
Q: What are UHP customers looking for most in a tire? How has the market changed over the past several years?
A: By definition, performance is still the priority, including wet and dry grip. The higher up in the category one goes, the more important some of the more refined performance attributes, such as noise and comfort, become. On the all-season side, in addition to the above, we see the importance of winter traction as well as mileage moving up the priority rank as consumers in all categories expect more from their tires.
Q: Do you expect to roll out any additional products in 2019?
A: We're launching quite a few products in 2019 – nine to be exact – serving light truck, high performance and passenger car. To begin, in April we activated our latest generation high-performance summer tire, the ADVAN V701, which replaces our S.drive line; a new track and competition tire, the ADVAN A052, which will set a new bar in the category; and our Geolandar X-CV, which is an all-season CUV/SUV tire intended for performance and luxury CUVs and SUVs.
This will be followed by the launch of our Geolandar X-AT in July, which will occupy the space between our traditional Geolandar A/T G015 and our Geolandar M/T.