Goodyear Looks Ahead After a Successful 2009 - Tire Review Magazine

Goodyear Looks Ahead After a Successful 2009

Without a doubt, 2009 was a challenging year. But armed with a strategy that included launching multiple new products, simplifying its brand portfolio and effectively managing its inventory and supply chain, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. came out ahead.

In fact, the tiremaker managed to gain marketshare for the sixth consecutive year, according to Rich Kramer, president of Goodyear’s North American tire unit. “We took advantage of the crisis and are better for it,” he told more than 1,800 dealers in attendance at the company’s annual conference earlier this week in Orlando, Fla. “We responded to the challenges with an eye on the future, taking actions that would help us be a better supplier to (our dealers) and help us both get ready to grow.”

“What we’ve put together these past few years – and even in the midst of a period of unbelievable economic challenges – is a profound set of accomplishments,” said Bob Keegan, Goodyear chairman and CEO. “What we’ve put together is enduring and sustaining, and it sets us up for huge potential growth in 2010 and beyond.”

Among the 18 new products launched last year, the Assurance Fuel Max tire saw much success; the tiremaker has sold nearly 2 million units of the mid-tier tire, which Goodyear boasts can save an average of 2,600 miles worth of gas over the life of the tires. And year-over-year, the company said that total replacement tire sales for the Goodyear brand increased in North America.

“Don’t underestimate the ability of fuel efficient tires to have an impact on the consumer,” Keegan said. “Goodyear has the leading technology in the fuel efficiency area and we plan on keeping it. Over the next many years, we will be investing significant sums of money in the development, manufacturing and marketing of fuel efficient tires.”

By using a “market back approach,” Goodyear developed products that consumers demanded, rather than dealers having to work harder to convince their customers which tires they should buy. “That’s why our products have been so successful in the worst economy in 70 years,” said Steve McClellan, president of the North American tire consumer business.

In addition, Goodyear said it shifted its multi-brand strategy to eliminate complexity and confusion among dealers and consumers. “Now we have three strong brands that are complimentary, allowing dealers to accurately meet consumer needs with a product from Goodyear, Dunlop or Kelly in every position,” said Phillip Kane, senior director of consumer sales. “The significant difference is that this is not a traditional good-better-best, three-brand menu. There will be some brand spillover from one tier to another. The brands will work together in a way that makes sense for dealers and consumers.”
Rich Kramer, president of Goodyears North American tire unit.
In 2010, Goodyear will add 23 more Assurance Fuel Max sizes to meet the needs of SUV and CUV owners, making it the only line of fuel savings tires to cover 80% of the passenger car market, Goodyear claimed. Also new are the Dunlop Rover AT and Ultra Grip Ice WRT, as well as additional sizes in Kelly lines.

The tiremaker is also replacing the original Assurance ComforTred, introduced in 2004, with the all-new Assurance ComforTred Touring, which offers “refined luxurious handling, all-season traction and a tread life limited warranty up to 80,000 miles.” Positioned as a premium tire for luxury sedans, the Assurance ComforTred Touring will be available in April in 34 sizes, the company said.

On the commercial side, the tiremaker announced a slew of new tires and retreads across all lines, including:

• The SmartWay-approved Goodyear G399 LHS Fuel Max steer tire and Goodyear G305 AT Fuel Max drive tire – both of which, the company said, deliver enhanced fuel economy, even wear and more miles to removal. These tires, combined with the G316 DuraSeal + Fuel Max tire and Fuel Max retreads, combine for a fuel-efficient cradle-to-grave package for long haul fleets, according to Donn Kramer, director of commercial marketing.

• The SmartWay-approved Dunlop SP 384 FM steer tire, SP 193 FM trailer tire and SP 456 FM drive tire, which employ Goodyear’s Fuel Max technology to provide fleets with a complete family of fuel-efficient products at a value price point, Kramer said.

• The Kelly Armorsteel KLS steer tire, designed to strengthen the brand’s position with long haul customers. The tire offers long removal mileage and even wear, and when combined with the existing KDA drive tire and KTSA trailer tire, creates a strong line of long haul products for fleets that want an economy price, Kramer said.

• Two new Unicircle retread designs – G622 and G661 HSA all-position retreads – for regional fleets.

• The Goodyear G296 MSA, a super single mixed service tire designed for construction and other on-/off- highway applications, as well as the G296 MSA retread.

• The Goodyear G296 WHA super single for waste haul fleets, available in both standard and DuraSeal options.

In addition the tiremaker said it will continue to enhance its FleetHQ service, offering faster service times, enhanced distribution and refining service specifications to better serve fleets.

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