Revitalizing the North American tire division has been an ongoing quest for top executives at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Cautiously optimistic, they never expected it to happen overnight.
Even so, speed has been a major focus for the Akron, Ohio-based tiremaker. Specifically, Goodyear officials have repeatedly stressed the importance of bringing new and innovative products to market fast.
And, it’s proving to be more than just lip service. Over the past 20 months, Goodyear introduced four product lines. Just last month, it launched another.
Following closely on the heels of the Assurance tires featuring ComforTred and TripleTred technologies and the Fortera and Wrangler tires made with SilentArmor technology comes a new Fortera tire featuring TripleTred technology.
Goodyear invited a small group of dealers to Phoenix in mid-September for the unveiling.
Jon Rich, president of Goodyear’s North American Tire division, told the modest assembly of dealers that they were “among the best.” The 200 dealers invited to Phoenix, he said, “were the most successful sellers of the new Goodyear Wrangler and Fortera tires featuring SilentArmor technology.”
The new Fortera was developed in response to dealers asking for an SUV version of Assurance TripleTred, Sanjay Sivanandan, vice president and general manager of the Goodyear brand, told dealers. It’s also a response to the growth of the SUV segment, he said.
The new Fortera is basically an SUV version of the Assurance passenger tire with TripleTred. Like the Assurance tire, the new Fortera features three tread “zones” for water, ice and dry that provide traction in any kind of weather, Goodyear said. It will initially be available in 12 sizes.
Inside the water zone is a new silica-based compound that grips in wet conditions and maximizes treadwear, according to the tiremaker. Polymers built into the ice zone allow for temperature flexibility, and fibers made from volcanic sand and fiberglass provide traction on slick surfaces. And, finally, the dry zone features a compound modeled after ultra-high performance tires, Goodyear said.
To show the tire’s three zones in action, Goodyear let dealers and journalists drive Chevy Tahoe SUVs fitted with Fortera TripleTred tires through an autocross course with wet, dry and simulated-ice conditions.
Officials told dealers that the all-season Fortera with TripleTred carries the RMA’s “mountain-snowflake symbol” normally reserved for pure winter tires. And, the new tire comes with a “utility package,” which includes a 60,000-mile treadlife limited warranty and 30-day trial.
Goodyear will promote the new tire throughout October with TV and radio commercials, as well as print and online ads, Sivanandan said.
Jack Winterton, Goodyear’s vice president of consumer tire sales, elaborated on upcoming promotions: “We have decided to triple down our money and efforts on promoting TripleTred this fall. That includes media promotion, full-page magazine ads and a national radio ad campaign.”
Additionally, Goodyear has put into place incentives for dealers to “triple up.” Dealers that place immediate orders will earn a stocking allowance and qualify for incremental spiffs for TripleTred sales in the fourth quarter of 2005, Winterton said.
The new tire will also come with consumer incentives. During October, November and December, consumers will be eligible to win weather-themed prizes. “Those drawn to the wet can win a jet ski,” explained Winterton. “For those who like to play in the snow, there’s a snowmobile, and for go-anywhere fun on land, an ATV.”
Goodyear will also host more than 300 training sessions nationwide and ride-and-drives in 122 markets, he added.
Near the close of the launch event, Bob Keegan, Goodyear chairman and CEO, told dealers that Goodyear’s long-term goal is to “move tires out of the commodity category.” Keegan explained that innovation and speed will help the company achieve that. “Our progress has just begun,” he said.