Passenger Tires – Pay Attention
The tire market, consumer attitudes, and vehicle technologies are constantly changing. If you’re not paying attention, you will be left behind.
While we are constantly told that we must learn how to market to the Millennials – that huge block of consumers in the 18 to 35-age range – many decision makers in the Tire Retail sector were selling tires before most Millennials had a driver’s license or owned a car. Are you one of those decision makers selling tires for 20 years or more? If so, this article is targeting you. However, this article also has content that is relevant to the decision makers who are Millennials.
Passenger vehicles have evolved dramatically over the past few years. Today we deal with a medley of vehicle categories – Sedans, Sport Sedans, Sport Coupes, Sports Cars, Roadsters, Muscle Cars, SUVs, High Performance SUVs, SUV Coupes, Crossovers; confused yet?
The average age of a passenger vehicle in Canada is between nine and 10 years. Cars are lasting longer and this adds to the medley of vehicles coming into your shops. In one bay you can have a 2007 Chevrolet Impala LTZ, 3.9 L V6 with 233 hp / 240 ft-lbs, 4 speed automatic, fitted with P225/55R17 95T tires. In the adjacent bay you can have a 2012 Hyundai Sonata 2.0T turbocharged 4 cylinder with 274 hp / 269 ft-lbs, 6 speed automatic, fitted with 225/45R18 95V tires. Both cars are “sporty” sedans, but focus on the differences – a Hyundai 4 cylinder with more horsepower and torque than a V6 Chevrolet Impala? Furthermore, the Hyundai is approximately 200 lbs. lighter than the Chevrolet.
More power, larger diameters
The vehicles coming into your shops today are lighter and far more powerful than the vehicles you saw just nine years ago. These vehicles use larger diameter tires with higher speed ratings to maximize the performance of the vehicle in steering response, and handling and braking. Remember, a speed rating is not just about speed.
Over the past five years, the OEMs have been fitting larger diameter tires with higher speed ratings to many vehicles. Today, a huge share of replacement tire demand is in 17” and 18” tires, and larger. While demand remains strong for smaller staples such as 195/65R15 and 205/55R16, if you are not stocking key 17” and 18” sizes you will miss out on many selling opportunities. SUV and Crossover sales are strong and many of these vehicles, along with some Minivans are using 17”, 18” and 19” tires. Look at some of the popular family sedans, such as the Honda Accord, equipped with 17” tires as the popular fitment.
In 2016, many of the passenger vehicles coming into your service bays will require 17”, 18”, 19” tires, and larger. Be prepared, update your inventory, upgrade your equipment and position yourself to succeed in the new reality.
Things are changing
My simple message here is what you learned 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago, gives you a good foundation. However, just as consumers have changed (you are now selling to Millennials), cars and their tires have changed, and continue to change. To succeed you must understand this change and use the understanding to prepare to succeed.
Remember your first day selling tires? You had to pay attention and learn a lot. Well, like it or not, the tire industry is full of first days, and so each and every day you have to pay attention to the market, learn what is happening, and be aware of what is coming over the horizon.