Earlier this summer, Sailun Tire released the TerraMax RT tire, intended for customers with trucks, Jeeps and SUVs looking for both a quiet ride on the highway and off-roading capabilities. The company recently held a ride-and-drive event in Las Vegas to test the TerraMax RT tires on highways and the rough, rocky terrain of Red Rock Canyon. During the event, I sat down with Wayne Cuculuzzi, vice president of product development at Sailun Tire, to discuss the company’s new TerraMax RT tire, which he said aims to deliver Tier 1 performance at a Tier 3 price point.
Cuculuzzi provided insights into Sailun’s pricing strategy, feedback-gathering process, product development approach, and distribution plans.
Christian Hinton, Tire Review Associate Editor: One of the first things you mentioned about the TerraMax RT was that although it’s part of a value brand, it has Tier 1 qualities. Why is that so important?
Wayne Cuculuzzi, vice president of product development: Our pricing strategy or value proposition is to give our customers and the consumer more tire than they are paying for. This has been our MO from day one. When we’re building an entirely new tire, we pick a Tier 1 benchmark to test it against.
How often do you get close to, if not match those benchmarks?
Wayne Cuculuzzi: Our goal is to be an A+ student vs the tier 1 benchmark and we hit that goal with the majority of performance attributes. We will not settle for anything but an A in any attribute.
Can you provide any insights into the pricing strategy for these tires? How does the Tier 3 price compare to the market?
Wayne Cuculuzzi: We will continue the Sailun pricing model which is; Tier 1 or 2 quality with a Tier 3 price level.
I’d love to hear more about how you gather feedback from customers to improve your tire offerings.
Wayne Cuculuzzi: We get feedback through a few avenues. Ride-and-drives are great, but they are fairly rare and expensive so mainly we lean on our sales team and their contact with installers. We don’t get this feedback in a passive way, waiting to hear something. We actively reach out for feedback on all launches to ensure feedback aligns with our testing and expectations.
Sailun is boasting a quiet ride on the highway with the TerraMax RT despite the aggressive tread design. Is that something you added because of customer demand? Or, is that something that is used as an extra selling tool?
Wayne Cuculuzzi: All of the above. To be honest, the tread design was designed based on technical know-how and aesthetics, and the quiet came with that. The factory has simulation software where they can tweak the tread design. On our side of the pond, we get the tread design as close to done as we can, then the factory takes it and they do the noise simulation and reshape some parts of the lugs to make it technically sound and manufacture-ready.
We tested the tires in tough conditions at Red Rock Canyon. Drivers aren’t going to face rocky and bumpy conditions like that in most situations, so why is it important to test them that way?
Wayne Cuculuzzi: I think it’s important for the dealers that sell it to be comfortable selling it. Because you’re right, probably 70% of those R/Ts will never see off-road, but it is good for the people who sell it to know that it works and it’s going to deliver in all applications.
Why was it important to make this tire, an R/T tire, 3PMS certified?
Wayne Cuculuzzi: To answer that, I think we have to look at the 3PMS certification. The TerraMax RT passed with almost a winter tire grade, so it did very well in conditions where you need a softer compound. So, the compound is a little bit softer, which allows a little bit more traction without airing down. Canada is also a big market for us. We have a great market share there and our customers are very winter focused, and in the province of Quebec it’s mandatory that they have that 3PMS symbol, or else they can’t use it in the winter.
What is the distribution plan for this tire?
Wayne Cuculuzzi: For the US, TBC has an extensive distribution network and in Canada, Sailun has a handful of regional and national partners (STOX, Market Tire, DTI & Fountain Tire) that retail and distribute Sailun tires.