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Winter Tire Sales Are Losing Traction

post #1 of 470
Thread Starter 

Interesting article on how the sale of snow specific tire sales are down. Is it that people perceive AWD/4WD to be sufficient? Is it that "All Season Tires" should suffice? Are snow tires a "luxury" for some that quite frankly can barely afford having four tires that are not bald on their cars? Thoughts?

 

Quote:

 Winter tire shipments fell from 5.3 million units in 2012 to 4.6 million units in 2013, a 13.2% drop, according to Modern Tire Dealer statistics. The decline was sharper the prior year when winter tire shipments fell 14.5% from 2011’s 6.2 million units. But several tire manufacturers and marketers believe this year’s relentless, often record-breaking winter storms will help push winter tire sales upward in the coming season.

Robert Hepp, vice president strategic planning for Nokian Tyres Inc., says the winter tire market in the United States is expected to grow consistently at about 4% a year for the next five years.

“I think you’re going to see that be even bigger the next couple years because of the extensive snow coverage in North America.”

Nokian Tyres is the North American sales and distribution arm of Nokian Tyres PLC, which recently funded two videos about winter tires produced by the Tire Industry Association (TIA). One video presents guidelines for selecting winter tires; the other discusses their safety advantages. The videos were filmed at Nokian’s Ivalo Proving Grounds in northern Finland. Dealers can download the videos to their websites or link to the videos on TIA’s website from their websites.

Bridgestone also expects the North American market to grow. “We are waiting for 2013 numbers to be compiled. In 2008, winter tire sales peaked,” says Anant Gandhi, product manager U.S. and Canada, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC. He attributes the 2008 spike to legislation mandating winter tire usage on all passenger vehicles in Quebec from Dec. 15 to March 15. The situation was very different just four years later.

“In 2012, the industry saw a dip in demand due to two mild winter seasons. Looking ahead to winter 2014-2015, we expect the market to normalize as a result of the more traditional winter we have experienced this season. The tire industry will continue to educate consumers about the importance of winter tires, and we hope the automotive industry will join in this endeavor.”

Education from tire manufacturers as well as dealers is key, according to Ron Golab, advertising specialist and marketing assistant for Toyo Tire Canada Inc. “Dealers know best what is working in their areas and what is the safest choice for their customers. For years consumers have been led to believe that all-season literally meant good for all seasons. Vehicles have changed so much in past decades and tires have had new demands placed on them to meet these changes. It may be time to designate them as three-season tires unless they can prove to be safe in all seasons.”

Steven Liu, director of consumer tire marketing for Hercules Tire & Rubber Co., says education and more high performance applications are helping drivers to see a need for winter tires during cold months. “Consumers are now more knowledgeable, and understand that winter compounds have better performance properties at colder temperatures than traditional all-season or summer compounds.”

Economic factors as well as mild winters have caused dealers to stock minimal amounts of winter tires, according to David Shelton, director, product marketing for Giti Tire (USA) Ltd. “The market appears to still be down from five years ago. However there is opportunity as the P-metric light truck segment appears to be up with the addition of SUV and CUVs. Newer vehicles are coming with new sizes, which complicate the size offering and selection, but allow opportunities for the dealer. If weather forecasters project the next few years will be similar to, or worse than, this year’s winter season, the market should experience a stable, consistent level of sell-in and sell-out, which has not been the case for the past five years.”

Although consumers are more aware of the safety advantages, they won’t come into a shop asking to buy a set of winter tires, according to Kevin Rohlwing, senior vice president of training for TIA. “Dealers are going to have to convince people that winter tires benefit them.”

Julie Manson, brand manager, winter and Canada, for the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., says dealers need to be able to explain why winter tires add safety. “From demonstrating the flexibility of winter tire compounds when temperatures drop, to pointing out the channels in the tread design that help evacuate slush, the dealers who emphasize education before the sale will serve as a critical touch-point for consumers.”

Read the whole article here: Modern Tire

post #2 of 470

Maybe prices will go down? I'm ok with that ...

post #3 of 470

Well, I can say for many people in Toronto, the perception is that we don't need them.  The GTA is the largest population centre in Canada with about 6 million people and for the most part, most winters, we get 1 or 2 serious snowfalls and the main roads are cleared to bare pavement within 24 hrs.  So most people in their day to day lives simply deal with it on all-seasons.  If it's particularly bad, they call in sick or take a vacation day to avoid the commute.  People who live outside the GTA haven't changed their buying habits I suspect.  But that is a much smaller slice of the pie for tire mfgs. 

 

Part 2 of that is, in my opinion, times are tough.  Many people are having trouble keeping up..house prices in the GTA are up about double in 10 years.  Household debt is at higher levels than in the US just before the housing crisis there.  Net income in Vancouver is -$2k..after you pay all your expenses and mortage/rent, you're down $2k a year.  When you have discretionary income, the question arises, do you blow $1000 on snows or try to soldier through on all-seasons for that 1 or 2 snowfalls a year?  Many people ask me whether they should do it and many seem to eventually convince themselves that they don't need them.  Then when there is a snowfall like today in Kitchener-Waterloo..2" or 3" on the ground..you have 60 collisions in 90 minutes in a city of maybe 300,000 people.  And yeah, AWD means less people get stuck..which is what most people fear..but they still slide off the road under braking or turning..so the need isn't as apparent as it might be in reality.

post #4 of 470
Quote:
For years consumers have been led to believe that all-season literally meant good for all seasons. Vehicles have changed so much in past decades and tires have had new demands placed on them to meet these changes. It may be time to designate them as three-season tires unless they can prove to be safe in all seasons

 

I've been living in New England for the past 15 years, and I've always had a front-wheel-drive car.  Until this past winter, I've just had all-season tires on them.  I drove a lot of miles through some pretty intense snowstorms with that configuration.

 

Granted, New England doesn't have the hill length or hill steepness that you get out in the Rockies or the Sierras, and granted there were a few sketchy moments over the years (thus leading to finally giving into "real" snow tires last winter), but I never got stuck and I never went off the road.

 

The above strikes me as being manufacturer / marketing efforts at trying to get their sales back up.  People who really can benefit from snow tires probably know that they really want snow tires...

post #5 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
 

 

I've been living in New England for the past 15 years, and I've always had a front-wheel-drive car.  Until this past winter, I've just had all-season tires on them.  I drove a lot of miles through some pretty intense snowstorms with that configuration.

 

Granted, New England doesn't have the hill length or hill steepness that you get out in the Rockies or the Sierras, and granted there were a few sketchy moments over the years (thus leading to finally giving into "real" snow tires last winter), but I never got stuck and I never went off the road.

 

The above strikes me as being manufacturer / marketing efforts at trying to get their sales back up.  People who really can benefit from snow tires probably know that they really want snow tires...


You know, the funny thing is, many people driving relatively expensive cars here don't spend on winter tires.  I watched a woman in a BMW 3-series try to accelerate from a light at a highway off-ramp and slide into the curb on the inside because of the superelevation in the off-ramp.  Now the car is stuck.  She's wearing high-heel shoes...it's -15C out..she apparently has enough money to buy a $45k car..but can't afford $1k for snows or $50 for boots??  I just don't get it.  Priorities I guess..

post #6 of 470

It's probably a combination of all the things you mentioned. With more and more AWD vehicles on the road, all season tires are probably sufficient for most people. I got a Subaru Outback for my wife years ago because she was working in the city, and had to travel a lot of side streets to get to her office that were rarely plowed regularly. When I'm skiing by myself, I usually bring my 4WD pickup, but when the family comes along, we take the Subie, and I haven't found many occasions where all season tires weren't good enough. However, I plan on buying a new Subie in the near future, and my wife's job description has changed. She retired a few years ago, and she now runs a 24 hour a day, 7days a week taxi service for our seven grandchildren. Bring them to school, pick them up at school, soccer practice, basketball practice, dance class, gymnastics, doctors, dentists, etc. You get the idea. And she has to do this regardless of the weather. So when the new car arrives, I'm also going to get a set of dedicated winter tires to go along with it. Because there are some times when good enough just isn't good enough. When she has to be out and about hauling precious cargo, I want her to have every fighting chance there is. Even if it keeps her from having a minor fender bender, then it was well worth the cost.

But of course, that's just my situation. Everyone is different. Everyone else has got to weigh the risk vs reward and make their own decision. I made due for years with regular all season tires and did just fine. I'm thinking that will probably be the case for most people, too. 

post #7 of 470
It's the two hour wait at Burt Bros. to get your tires changed.
post #8 of 470

One factor they don't mention is the requirement that all new cars have tire pressure sensors connected to a warning light in the vehicle.  When we bought set of snowtires for my wife's new car last season the sensors added about $200 to the total package price.  I'm able to run my snow tires on $30 steel rims, but hers were a lot more.

 

Bottom line is that it's more expensive to buy that second set of wheels and that may contribute to the decline in sales.  Still, I'm with Scott above, shaking my head over why someone would pay $45k for an SUV and not pony up a few extra bucks for tires that actually work in the snow.

post #9 of 470

Another factor could be that the tire manufacturers have put a lot of effort into making their winter tires last longer.  The original Blizzak's wore down at a pretty significant rate and the newer ones fair much better.  Michelin expects users to get 40,000 miles out of the X-Ice 3's.  So, instead of tires lasting 2-3 seasons people are getting 4-5 seasons.  That's a big difference. 

 

FWIW, I will never run A/S tires in the winter again.

post #10 of 470
I'm with KevinF. I never had snowtires on any car from about 1983 till 2004. Even the 1992 Honda Civic Si I made sure had good all-seasons on it, that car was where we started skiing every weekend and my son was ona ski race team so we traveled to other mt's. Never had a issue, In 1998 I bought my first Subaru Legacy GT wagon, just made sure it had good all seasons same with the 00' wagon. It wan't until Dec 2004 that I put snows on my 2005 GT wagon. Just because it had more hp.

I have posted some of the winter driving stories here in the past from the pre snowtire years, Never had a real issue unless I was playing and high sided the car.

I put the snows on my 2005 GT wagon this week, they are the snowtires that go on my 2009 Legacy, I don't take that to VT every winter weekend, if I do take it, the all season tires are still in great shape.
post #11 of 470

If you've never had modern snow tires on your car, you won;t know the difference it makes.  Can you get by without them, using driving skills alone?  Probably...but I've been putting good snows on my cars for nearly 30 years, and will never be without them.  This was driven home one year when the snows for my car were nearly worn out.  I had just gotten new all-seasons, and figured I would give them a try.  The first snow storm that hit, I couldn't make it up the hill where I lived, except for putting on a set of cable chains I had "just in case".  Put the worn out snows on, and found they were better than brand new all-seasons.  The extra tires and rims do cost money, but you're also not wearing out your summer tires, so the tire cost is very small, it's just the cost of the wheels etc to get set up.  I look at it this way, it's cheaper than the insurance deductible, and with carfax you can't hide the fact it was in an accident.  And it's not just about how well you can control your car, but avoiding somebody else who has lost control.

 

There are some countries that have started to mandate winter-specific tires during the winter driving season (I believe the province of Quebec is one of them...)  Very likely most people are now equipped with proper tires for their cars, so the initial demand has now tapered off.  That could account for less snow tire sales.

post #12 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
 

One factor they don't mention is the requirement that all new cars have tire pressure sensors connected to a warning light in the vehicle.  When we bought set of snowtires for my wife's new car last season the sensors added about $200 to the total package price.  I'm able to run my snow tires on $30 steel rims, but hers were a lot more.

 

For anyone who wants snow tires on dedicated rims, but doesn't want to shell out the $ for an extra set of sensors, you can fix the problem with a piece of black electrical tape.  Isn't the most elegant solution of course, but it "works".

post #13 of 470

when its race day or powder days and one has to absolutely positively get to the hill, there simply is no substitute! 

 

I would agree that the perceived need is certainly enhanced by actually driving a car with a set of them.  after wearing the tar out of some blizzaks over 4 winters, I'm trying the ice-x 3 this year.

 

I suspect cost deters some but not to nearly the extent is the lack of understanding that a) they are available and b) how dam good they really are.

 

and, don't underestimate the improved ride quality resulting from the use of softer rubber compounds that don't get rock hard in the extreme cold.

post #14 of 470

To further echo the "once you try them, you'll never go back..." comments...  I felt the same way. 

 

Well, I should clarify.  My new car is the first one I've had that I've put snow tires on, and it's also the first car I've had with traction control and/or stability control.

 

Snow tires + traction control + stability control...  I don't know which one makes the biggest difference, but the three of them together is like cheating.  Even when i tried to mess up (fooling around in an empty parking lot...) -- it's impossible!  And again, this is a front wheel drive Honda Fit that we're talking about here.

post #15 of 470

The tires make the biggest difference since the traction control and stability control can only work with the amount of available grip.

post #16 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaobrien6 View Post
 

 

For anyone who wants snow tires on dedicated rims, but doesn't want to shell out the $ for an extra set of sensors, you can fix the problem with a piece of black electrical tape.  Isn't the most elegant solution of course, but it "works".

 

It's illegal for a shop to mount tires without the sensor on a car that is designed to have the sensors.  Of course, you could order the tires and sensor-less  rims together, have them shipped pre mounted without saying what vehicle you are putting them on, and change the tires yourself.  But I'm not generally in favor of bypassing safety features.

post #17 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
 

It's illegal for a shop to mount tires without the sensor on a car that is designed to have the sensors.  Of course, you could order the tires and sensor-less  rims together, have them shipped pre mounted without saying what vehicle you are putting them on, and change the tires yourself.  But I'm not generally in favor of bypassing safety features.

 

Interesting, I didn't think that was the case because last time I bought new snow tires (4ish years ago) they gave me the choice of purchasing the sensors or not.  So after you posted, I did a little research.  Apparently when the law was first put in place, dealers and shops were interpreting it in such a way that simply not installing new sensors on new rims did not count as "making the system inoperative", and therefore not in violation of the law.  In November of 2011, the NHTSA clarified that if the TPMS was functioning when the customer brought the car into the shop, failure to install TPMS sensors on the new rims *does* count as "making the system inoperative" and therefore is in violation of the law.

post #18 of 470
There you go another reason not to buy extra wheels to have the snow tires mounted on.


My extra wheels are OEM wheels that came off another Legacy Spec B, I just put black tape over the light on the dash when I have those rims on the car.

Yea, I know, Im not paying the tire guy to re-program the light.
post #19 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Capacity View Post

Yea, I know, Im not paying the tire guy to re-program the light.

 

I get my tires swapped by the shop I bought them from; they do it for free and they reprogram the TPMS for free.  I make an appointment so that even when they're busy, they can take me right away.  I do it on my lunch break, drop the car off, walk somewhere and get lunch, come back and the car's ready.  I have a floor jack and jack stands, but it's honestly just easier to let someone else do it especially since they reprogram the TPMS.

post #20 of 470

I think Walt nailed it in post #8.  TPMS sensors are both expensive and a giant PITA.  If I didn't get lucky and score a TPMS reset switch for the Ford system, I'd be looking at $300 for a universal reset tool.  That's in addition to the extra $50 per rim to add TPMS sensors.  The local tire store floor apes were pretty bad at breaking the sensors too - another reason not to go to the tire store twice a year.  I'm swapping 3 sets of snow tires this weekend.

 

If you've got Ford TPMS sensors, you can get the reset pendant for ~$20 from the dealer.

 

ProcServlet (params=[pa=0.5&sa=0&ry=321&rx=480&cr=0.0,0.0,1.0,1.0&nocredit=1&ci=47b7cc09b3127cceb332f549075400000026108AZMWjZq4btr&r=0&cb=14868967&p=1&dsbg=221&ps=1&po=0&g=2.2&bw=0.2&b=1&ph=59360&si=00006785641220071228143615580.JPG&gc=1] actions=[CachedCanvas (ProxyRaw(RawReferences(00006785641220071228143615580.JPG), 600) | FitToSize(java.awt.Dimension[width=476,height=317], 2) | ScaleRGB(1.103896141052246, 1.103896141052246, 1.103896141052246) | Sharpen(1.2999999523162842) | ShowPrint(java.awt.Dimension[width=480,height=321], 221, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0, 2, 0.800000011920929, 0.800000011920929, 0.800000011920929, 0) -> NativeCanvas(8620B10))] cache=null) 172.16.144.87 2008/01/24 09:08:56.988

post #21 of 470

Locally, I'm looking at a 35 mile drive to the ski area, with typically good to excellent plowing, and plenty of slow drivers anyway, so with some prudence, and leaving five minutes early, all seasons would be fine.

 

But we take at least 3 winter road trips each season, into "real" mountains (Teton Pass, etc.), and for that I happily pony up the $$$ for dedicated snow tires.

 

They DO make a noticeable difference, but having gone both ways several times over the decades, it's a little hard to get too evangelical about it.

 

Isn't Nokian making a new all-season that is touted as being pretty darn impressive in snow?

post #22 of 470
Quote:

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpikeDog View Post
 

I think Walt nailed it in post #8.  TPMS sensors are both expensive and a giant PITA.  If I didn't get lucky and score a TPMS reset switch for the Ford system, I'd be looking at $300 for a universal reset tool.  That's in addition to the extra $50 per rim to add TPMS sensors.  The local tire store floor apes were pretty bad at breaking the sensors too - another reason not to go to the tire store twice a year.  I'm swapping 3 sets of snow tires this weekend.

 

If you've got Ford TPMS sensors, you can get the reset pendant for ~$20 from the dealer.

 

ProcServlet (params=[pa=0.5&sa=0&ry=321&rx=480&cr=0.0,0.0,1.0,1.0&nocredit=1&ci=47b7cc09b3127cceb332f549075400000026108AZMWjZq4btr&r=0&cb=14868967&p=1&dsbg=221&ps=1&po=0&g=2.2&bw=0.2&b=1&ph=59360&si=00006785641220071228143615580.JPG&gc=1] actions=[CachedCanvas (ProxyRaw(RawReferences(00006785641220071228143615580.JPG), 600) | FitToSize(java.awt.Dimension[width=476,height=317], 2) | ScaleRGB(1.103896141052246, 1.103896141052246, 1.103896141052246) | Sharpen(1.2999999523162842) | ShowPrint(java.awt.Dimension[width=480,height=321], 221, 1.0, 1.0, 1.0, 2, 0.800000011920929, 0.800000011920929, 0.800000011920929, 0) -> NativeCanvas(8620B10))] cache=null) 172.16.144.87 2008/01/24 09:08:56.988

 

 

So don't RUN THEM.

post #23 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by HRPufnStf View Post
 

Isn't Nokian making a new all-season that is touted as being pretty darn impressive in snow?

 

 

That's theWRG3 which is in a new category called "all weather".  This means it's not a dedicated winter tire; it can be used in spring and fall, but not summer.  It's not as good in the winter, and you still need summer tires.  Sounds like a poor set of compromises.

 

Here's a review:

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-drive/culture/commuting/are-all-weather-tires-a-good-compromise/article16190526/

post #24 of 470
I live in Vancouver but would never go without winter tyres. For one thing winter tyres have a different tread designed to move large volumes of water associated with slush.

But it is really a question of car insurance. If you are in an accident without winter tyres when you should have had them, look out.
post #25 of 470

I run studless snow tires all year around.  I never switch.  It's easy to get at least a few years out of them.  I found this easier than the change over deal.  Early or late snowfall, no worries.  Of course I have a summer sports car that has summer only tires too.  It's the stud deal that sucks.

post #26 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques View Post
 

I run studless snow tires all year around.  I never switch.  It's easy to get at least a few years out of them.  I found this easier than the change over deal.  Early or late snowfall, no worries.  Of course I have a summer sports car that has summer only tires too.  It's the stud deal that sucks.


So what you mostly do is run your winter vehicle and don't change the tires ,park  it, then drive the summer car ?  Which is like using one car and changing the tires in winter.  My stock Subaru tires are worthless in ice and snow so I run Michelin x and love the security on poorly maintained roads we accept as the norm/ For my work truck I run a deep groove all weather Michelin until it dumps more than usual then I change but hate the runs on dry pavement. It feels like dollar bills being left on the pavement.

 

My daily driver is the Subaru and  a set up with snows is the only option until I replace the unwinterly stock tires that are great in hot weather.

post #27 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by GarryZ View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacques View Post
 

I run studless snow tires all year around.  I never switch.  It's easy to get at least a few years out of them.  I found this easier than the change over deal.  Early or late snowfall, no worries.  Of course I have a summer sports car that has summer only tires too.  It's the stud deal that sucks.


So what you mostly do is run your winter vehicle and don't change the tires ,park  it, then drive the summer car ?  Which is like using one car and changing the tires in winter.  My stock Subaru tires are worthless in ice and snow so I run Michelin x and love the security on poorly maintained roads we accept as the norm/ For my work truck I run a deep groove all weather Michelin until it dumps more than usual then I change but hate the runs on dry pavement. It feels like dollar bills being left on the pavement.

 

My daily driver is the Subaru and  a set up with snows is the only option until I replace the unwinterly stock tires that are great in hot weather.


My "Sport" car is my work truck!  I tow with it.  I only work in the off season.  So yea, a winter and summer vehicle.  The winter Subaru moves all year though. 

post #28 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by wa-loaf View Post

Maybe prices will go down? I'm ok with that ...
Maybe they are. Last month Costco gave me a quote of about $450 for Blizzak WS80s installed (with their $70 discount), but today the cost is $380 installed. Time to go make that appointment...biggrin.gif
post #29 of 470

Lots of things to factor in

Economy, not many people can afford them. Especially looking at how many slick tires i see everyday
Weather, warmer less snow fall in general
Laws, some states (CA) have idiotic laws where even if you have snow tires you still need chains... what's the point?

Education, people might not be aware that 4WD and AWD doesn't equal snow traction, and or that winter tires are not for alaska weather only.

post #30 of 470
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rossi Smash View Post
 

 

 

 

So don't RUN THEM.

 

I'm pointing out how hard it is to do it RIGHT.

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