Ever since the onset of the pandemic, tire retailers in Canada have been dealing with a challenging year, and now, an unpredictable fall changeover season.
Not only have consumers changed their driving habits, but with less disposable income they are more careful about their spending habits, and less willing to part with their dollars.
This is especially true when it comes to grudge purchases, like tires.
Sensitive to the realities of the current market, Yokohama is supporting tire retailers and distributors as the industry strives to deal with ongoing challenges.
“As an organization, we are focused on being as flexible as reasonably possible,” explains Phillip Diogenes, Director of Sales, Yokohama Tire Canada. “We realize that we’re in this together with our business partners—the distributors and retailers— so we’re offering the support our customers need in these difficult times.”
Yokohama started the fall season in a strong winter inventory position, making it possible for retailers to get the tires they need, when they need them. The company is also focused on providing operational flexibility to fill peak season orders as quickly as possible, and they’re offering a consumer mail-in rebate program to help end users deal with the cost of acquiring new tires.
Yokohama prides itself on offering premium quality tires at competitive prices—a value proposition that can help tire retailers offer end user consumers some options. “We see ourselves as a premium tire manufacturer, but with a competitive edge on pricing,” Diogenes adds, “and we’re doing so at a time when consumers are more concerned about their spending.”
One of these quality products is the latest iceGUARD winter tire family, which was specifically engineered to tackle our nasty Canadian winter conditions. “Our dealer network and consumers were directly involved in helping to shape the performance characteristics of these tires to combat our Canadian winter conditions,” Diogenes adds. “It’s about having a tire that performs across the wide variety of real-world winter conditions that we face, at varying speeds, that maximizes grip across dry, wet, slush, ice and snow conditions while delivering long tread life and a quiet ride.”
The iceGUARD family consists of the iceGUARD IG53, specifically designed for passenger cars and minivans with numerous sizes ranging from 14 to 18 inches in diameter, while the iceGUARD G075 is designed for larger crossovers, SUVs and light trucks with sizes ranging from 16 to 22 inches in diameter. “The combined iceGUARD product line offers retailers a comprehensive winter tire solution that I’m confident will deliver exceptional end user consumer satisfaction and drive repeat visits through loyalty,” explains Diogenes.
Brighter days ahead
While no one knows for sure what the future holds, Diogenes is looking forward to a brighter 2021, at least from a retail perspective. “We’re pretty optimistic,” he says of Yokohama as an organization. “As much as we expect COVID to continue into 2021, we’ve seen consumers delay some of their purchases, which means that eventually people are going to have to change over their tires. We’ve also noticed our retail partners adapting to this new reality with processes and measures to combat COVID which seems to be helping to improve consumer confidence. So we’re expecting a little bit more stability, getting in and getting through 2021.”
In the meantime, Yokohama continues to support their customers and end users, as our industry navigates a most challenging year.
New and noteworthy commercial tires
Yokohama debuted an array of new commercial products in late 2019 and throughout 2020.
Despite the pandemic, Yokohama’s commercial tire division has had a busy year as the company introduced a number of new tires for the Canadian market, starting with a longhaul drive tire, the 712L and a regional drive tire, the 715R in 2019.
Manufactured in Yokohama’s plant in West Point, Mississippi, the 712L is available in four sizes— 295/75R22.5, 11R22.5, 285/75R24.5 and 11R24.5. All are SmartWay-verified, and all carry the three-peak mountain snowflake symbol, which means they’re suitable for winter service applications. “It’s tough and durable deep tread design provides great traction while delivering outstanding wear resistance and top-tier fuel efficiency, offering fleets a great year-round long-haul performer that is ready to face all weather conditions,” explains Phillip Diogenes, Director of Sales, Yokohama Tire Canada.
Also made in West Point, is the new 715R regional drive, which launched the 11R22.5 in late 2019, then further expanding the line in 2020 to 295/75R22.5, 285/75R24.5 and 11R24.5 sizes. “We are excited to introduce this Smartway Verified open shoulder regional drive tire that delivers maximum grip, while offering long and even wear, combined with an H load rating to carry heavier payloads with ease,” explains Diogenes.
In June, Yokohama rolled out another key commercial product, the 504C, which replaces and builds upon the brand’s well known MY507 tire. This new all-position radial tire boasts what Yokohama engineers call “a sturdy undertread,” designed to handle harsh on- and off-highway conditions.
On the Ultra Wide-Base (UWB) side of the market, Yokohama announced this year that their latest regional-haul trailer tire, the 114R, is available in sizes 445/50R/22.5 and 455/55R/22.5, as of June 2020 in Canada. This SmartWay-verified tire—the successor to the RY407— has been specifically engineered for high-scrub operations. It boasts superior cut and chip resistance and an extended tread life.
Fleets operating urban pick-up/delivery trucks can take advantage of Yokohama’s all-new 714R drive tire, which debuted at the TMC Show in February and has been available in Canada since August, 2020. It’s currently available in two sizes: 225/70R19.5 and 245/70R19.5. This all-weather tire promises longer wear and outstanding fuel efficiency.
Another all-season offering from Yokohama is the new 115R, which also debuted earlier this year at the TMC Show and launched in Canada in August 2020 in the 225/70R19.5 size. This all-position tire is engineered specifically for emergency vehicles or other class 4 & 5 vehicles, offering an N-Speed rating, designed to handle high speeds of up to 140km/h. This tire also delivers superior traction and durability, while the advanced heat-resistant compound increases tread life and optimizes fuel economy.