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?
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