While many American businesses suffered decreased demands during this pandemic-stricken year, 2020 hasn’t slowed down for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.’s commercial vehicle division, which is preparing to roll out new products to meet the increased demands of 2021.
“Back in March when the pandemic began to impact North America with government orders and safety protocols affecting the number of vehicles on the road, many experienced a downturn in our businesses. However, while some industries suffered a longer-term demand shock, we were more fortunate,” Dave Beasley, Goodyear’s VP of commercial tires for North America, said during the opening session of Goodyear’s Virtual Customer Conference on Dec. 7. “As part of the world's supply chain, trucks remained on the road to deliver essential goods. And because movement among trucking fleets did not stop but actually grew in some segments, demand for our industry-leading products increased rapidly in the second half of the year.”
Goodyear’s fleet business in 2020 is up over 2019 levels, according to Cary Budzinski, senior director of North American commercial sales. “Despite the many challenges we faced this year, our service network, our portfolio of leading products, and our complete tire management solutions has never been better — and we’re continuing to win fleet business,” he said.
Among those challenges for the Akron, Ohio-based tire company was implementing safety procedures at its plants to keep up with production demands. “To help us grow and meet these demands, we are hiring new skilled workers and we are focused on premium tire production so we can get the top-selling tires to you more quickly,” Beasley said. “We are ready to hit the ground running in 2021. Our volume is strong and we’ve never been better positioned to win with fleets.”
Goodyear executives made several new product announcements aimed at large and small commercial fleets during the opening of its week-long conference.
The rubber company launched a new interactive portal, called Fleet Central, to help fleets maximize tire efficiencies. In the portal, carriers can purchase tires, activate service and get insights into their tire programs.
With Fleet Central, fleets can view and take action on all aspects of their tire programs on an online dashboard that allows managers to see information from a total fleet-level down to a specific vehicle, tire or service event in real-time. Fleets can also interact with Goodyear directly to buy tires, schedule service, request tire inspections, or request emergency roadside assistance from Goodyear’s service network of more than 2,300 providers, among other features.
“Today, we have introduced Fleet Central to more than 6,000 fleet users, and we recently expanded it to beyond Goodyear national accounts, opening it up to our network’s local customers,” Beasley said.
Created for long-haul fleets looking to improve fuel efficiency, the new Goodyear Fuel Max LHD 2 will be available in early 2021. The drive tire has a fuel-focused tread compound combination that offers low-rolling resistance that meets Phase 2 of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards.
“It also includes Goodyear’s signature TredLock technology, including double corrugated blades that help ensure the tire wears evenly and maintains traction over time — even through ice and snow — earning it a Three Peak Mountain Snowflake designation,” Beasley said.
This new tire is expected to be available early in 2021 in size 295/75R22.5 (Load Range G), with the 11R22.5 (Load Range G) size available later.
With an expected mid-2021 launch, Goodyear unveiled the new Fuel Max RSD tire and three new UniCircle retread products: Fuel Max RSD, Fuel Max RTD and UltraGrip RTD. The retreads offer matching tread designs and compounds to the new tires.
The Fuel Max RSD, which stands for regional super drive, offers enhanced fuel efficiency, mileage and traction for super-regional fleets. “Super-regional is a vocation we first talked about earlier this year,” Beasley said. “We see it as a hybrid between long-haul and regional applications for day cab and 6x2 axle configurations. This is a demanding application and with Fuel Max RSD, Goodyear has delivered a tire you can be confident will provide the traction and durability you need both in the city and on the highway.”
Goodyear is also introducing three new premium spliceless UniCircle retreads designed for regional fleets:
- Fuel Max RSD (Regional Service Drive) UniCircle Retread, the matching tread design to the new Fuel Max RSD drive tire, with deep traction features for enhanced traction as the tire wears and is SmartWay-verified for fuel-efficiency.
- Fuel Max RTD (Regional Traction Drive) UniCircle Retread, the matching tread design to the recently launched Fuel Max RTD premium regional drive tire, with an open-shoulder design that maximizes traction and long miles to removal. It carries the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake designation and is SmartWay-verified for fuel-efficiency.
- UltraGrip RTD (Regional Traction Drive) UniCircle Retread, the matching tread design to Goodyear’s best all-season regional drive tire for traction and grip – the UltraGrip RTD. Its evolving open-shoulder design with biting edges and sipes earned it the Three-Peak Mountain Snowflake designation for traction even at 50% worn.
These regional retreads will be available in popular sizes by mid-2021, Goodyear anticipates. The Fuel Max RSD drive tire will initially launch in 295/75R22.5 (Load Range G), with additional sizes rolling out in 2022.
“We all know that one of the ways to win with fleets looking to save money on the road is to offer new tires with long-lasting casings and premium retreads,” Budzinski said. “When it comes to retreads, our goal is to create a product that rivals the performance of new tires. Goodyear UniCircle Retread technology offers a seamless tread design that adheres closely to the tire casing and delivers a precise fit without the need for splicing.”