Selling tires to consumers involves many aspects. In addition to the central supply dilemma and selling consultants, customers face multiple options individually.
Price, vehicle safety, and appearance are important, but a tire’s longevity and long life are key features that can balance consumer protection and comfort. Although tire manufacturers support long life, most customers ask, “How many miles do I get out of this set of tires?”
Certainly, durability is important, but good businesses understand that robust tread property, paired with a specific application, makes the difference between a pleased and an unhappy customer.
Tread Life Trends
Keith Willcome, the application engineer for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, USA and Canada, said the performance of long-life treads are able to meet car population trends thanks to consumer tastes. New model categories for the extreme range of CUVs, SUVs, and truck fitments have increased the availability of products focusing on tread life and different performance styles. Many manufacturers still focus on the success of light truck wear and have begun to sell treadwear warranty on all roads and all-terrain models of those sizes.
“Long life tread will continue to be one of the best sought-after durability characteristics of most customers in the USA, says Conrad Galamgam, vice president at Toyo Tire U.S.A.’s product planning and technical services. As families shift from sedans to SUVs and CUVs, these car tire options have also expanded. Hybrid, PHEV and EV options are also available and there is a need for tires that are built to add these high torque applications.”
According to Aaron Neumann, Richfield’s Product Marketing Manager and Ohio’s Nexen Tire America Technology Hub, the overwhelming majority of tire consumers prefer extended tread life to grip.
Achieve the perfect balance
From a technical perspective, achieving durable treads is a juggling act with other tire characteristics and performance factors.
Bridgestone Americas’ Willkommen says that Tire design is a delicate balance between winning in one field and failing in another. Technological developments are required to succeed in several ways.
Tire engineers use advanced compounding to create tread compounds that increase wear resistance, less rolling as well as wet, dry, and snow traction. New testing techniques and equipment show engineers how the tire deflects on the road to reduce uneven friction, maximize grip, and wear. Advanced tread pattern simulation is another way to get extra tire strength.
Toyo Tires’ Galamgam advises that compounding, treading, structural construction, and touch patches aid in tire durability and tread wear. Tire engineering, he says, requires strong knowledge of geographic performance, vehicle fitting, road conditions, and driving behaviors.
These demands define performance features that prioritize each development, including wet and dry handling, winter handling, roll resistance, off-road, and tread wear. Production, design, and the manufacture of Nano-level materials help to achieve lasting tread compounds while maintaining and improving other performance characteristics.
Tom Carter, Michelin Technical Communications Officer, says many tires see performance degradation as they wear in wet and snow performance as tread depth remains adequate. That’s because treading, like sipes and grooves, isn’t always full depth. Proprietary compounding and pattern template design, especially how each block comes in and out of the contact patch, enables treadwear.