The New Reality


Peter-James Gregory is President of Atlas Tire Wholesale Inc.

High performance tires, aren’t what they used to be. Are you familiar with the new normal?

OK, maybe I will age myself, but it does not seem that long ago – in the early 1990s – that a V Speed Rated tire was only found on a limited number of performance sedans and sports cars. By the late 1990s, a 45 series 17” tire was available on a few hot cars such the BMW M3, Ford Mustang SVT Cobra, Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG, etc.

BAM!!…wake up to the reality of today. High Performance tires are virtually everywhere and on everything. The 2016 Toyota Corolla S has P215/45R17 87W High Performance All Season tires as OE.

Seventeen-inch low profile W Speed Rated tires on a small Toyota sedan… this is the new normal. In addition, data from the tire manufacturers’ shows that over 50% of the new OE fitments coming on stream are 18” or above, and many will have profiles of 50 Series or lower.

Know your tires!

If you are selling tires today you must understand the High Performance Category. You must spend some time to learn about this category. As is the case with its various sub-categories, it covers a wide spectrum of tires in the Canadian marketplace. Some of these sub-categories are High Performance Touring All Season, Ultra High Performance All Season, Ultra High Performance Summer, and Extreme Performance Summer. Each sub-category contains tires with vastly different ride and handling characteristics and fitting the wrong sub-category to a car can create customer satisfaction issues.

While this has been said many times before by various qualified tire professionals, I repeat, please do not focus on the Speed Rating for speed only. Too many times I hear the comment, “You do not need a V Speed Rated tire as you do not drive that fast.” Bluntly, when Honda fitted 235/45R18 94V to a Honda Accord, the tire was not just fitted to allow the car to travel at 240 KPH; the tire was fitted for the handling characteristics at normal highway speeds of 100 to 120 KPH, for shorter breaking distances and for cooler operating temperatures.

Note, there are 4 attributes listed, and the speed capability of the tire is only one of them. The other three are more important than the speed capability but actually exist due to the speed rating of the tire. Reduce the speed rating and you reduce the other attributes. Not good.

High performance, high price, high profit

The Canadian market has been enjoying an extended period of vibrant growth in new car sales. Many of these new cars are in trim levels that utilize larger diameter, low profile, high performance tires. And, these are not sports cars; they are everyday sedans with Sport our Touring trim levels utilizing 225/50R18, 225/45R18, 235/45R18 etc. Using these three tire sizes as an example you have vehicles from Acura, Buick, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Kia, Lexus and Toyota etc. These vehicles are in your services bays today.

High Performance tires have higher price points and higher profit margins than regular Touring tires. There is strong and growing demand for

High Performance tires, with a very high percentage driven by OE replacement. This presents a great opportunity for Tire Retailers to increase their sales and improve their margins. Spring and summer is the prime selling season for High Performance tires. Grab the opportunity and succeed.

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