When in Rome
PTNA Rolls Out Tires, New Programs in Georgia Event
Anyone in this industry will tell you, when Pirelli does something, they do it big. Pirelli Tire North America’s (PTNA) recent rollout of four new tires was a two-week worldwide event, with dozens of enthusiast, tire and financial journalists and well over 100 North American dealers in attendance.
The event included a ride-and-drive introduction to the new products at Road Atlanta raceway, a tour of PTNA’s new headquarters and tire plant in Rome, Ga., and a look at where PTNA and its parent, Pirelli SpA, are headed.
Introduced were the new Scorpion STR, a T-, H- and V-rated light truck/SUV radial; the Scorpion Zero Asimmetrico, a W-rated high performance light truck/SUV line; the P Zero Nero M+S, an all-weather extension of the W-rated ultra-high performance line; and the P Zero Corsa, a Y-rated DOT tire designed for road and racetrack use.
For many dealers and media, it was their first look at Pirelli’s Modular Integrated Robotized System (MIRS), its fully automated production process. The Georgia plant has three complete MIRS modules running producing some 350 tires per module daily ®“ but not at full speed as yet, according to PTNA. The plant plans to add two more modules by early 2004.
The Rome facility has some 460,000 square feet of production space under roof, enough for 20 MIRS modules, and officials say there is enough land to build two more like-sized buildings.
Using only 3,767 square feet of floor space, each module produces and assembles all tire components, including beads, steel belts, casing plies, and cap plies, and can simultaneously produce six different sizes of the same tire.
According to Gaetano Mannino, PTNA’s president of CEO, MIRS is being used to produce motorcycle tires in Europe, and is being tested for production of medium truck tires, but says there are no short- or mid-term plans to produce such products for N.A.
Mannino says Pirelli will open a new tire plant in Bahia, Brazil, in early 2004, a traditional manufacturing facility that will exclusively service the North American market.
PTNA’s strategy, says Mannino, is build replacement business through its dealers and by winning key OE fitments. To date, PTNA has OE contracts with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo, Jaguar, Saab, Audi and Porsche, and it has earned new business on top end Lincoln and Ford models. The new Scorpion Zero Asimmetrico is OE on Dodge’s 500 hp Ram SRT 10 and, Pirelli has a position on an undetermined Ford Focus model. In addition, the company is working with Ford, GM and others on new fitments for 2004.
On the dealer-relations side, PTNA has hired Value Partners to conduct customer satisfaction surveys of Pirelli dealers to determine where it needs to improve. And it has launched www.tireclub.pirelli.com, a Web site component that allows dealers to order tires and track tires online through delivery.
To invigorate its dealer channel, PTNA’s new incentive program will reward dealers with their choice of new vehicles. Based on order levels from $2 million on down ®“ dealers can a new Maserati Coupe, Porsche Cayenne, Ford Excursion, Dodge Ram SRT10, Volvo XC70 or XC90, Ford Focus 2X3 or BMW Mini Cooper. Orders of $150,000 earn Panoz racing school packages.
Scorpion STR is M+S rated and offers sizing covering nearly 85% of light duty vehicles in North America, said officials. PTNA has 29 sizes of the T-, H- and V-rated tire, covering 15- to 18-inch wheels. Three extra load sizes are also available.
Created for the growing LT performance tuner segment, the Scorpion Zero Asimmetrico was designed for optimum wet and dry grip, says PTNA. The line features 10 sizes, all extra load, covering 21- to 24-inch wheels.
M+S rated P Zero Nero was developed for the sport tuner market, and provides excellent wet and dry handling and grip, says PTNA. The line is available in 14 sizes covering 16- to 19-inch wheels.
With 13-sizes, the Y-rated P Zero Corsa, created for what Pirelli says is "extreme driving," is available for 17 and 18-inch wheel diameters.