HP Tires: A Perennial Favourite

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A perennial favourite, HP tires are in growing demand as we enter the 2024 changeover season. Photo Adobe Stock
Engineered for EVs, the Yokohama ADVAN Sport EV A/S was designed to last. Moreover, this new tire promises the sharp steering response, powerful braking and improved snow traction of the ADVAN Sport A/S+, but with the additional benefit of a long-lasting tread design. Photo Yokohama

High-performance tire sales should be solid this year as we move out of the winter season.

When it comes to tire sales, the high-performance (HP) tire segment has long been a winner. A perennial favourite, HP tires are in growing demand as we enter the 2024 changeover season.

“This is a strong segment,” says Angela Crivoi, Market Planning Manager, Consumer Segment, Yokohama Tire Canada. “It’s not a segment where demand goes down. Demand for HP tires is always growing.”

As more carmakers equip their new vehicles with HP tires, Crivoi adds, it only makes sense that drivers will continue to replace those OEM tires with another set of HP tires. This fact, in turn, translates into a growing HP offering from tire brands.

“We have seven types of tires in this segment,” Crivoi explains. “Imagine how many choices consumers have. When you add the seven options from us at Yokohama to what other tire manufactures have on the market, you can just imagine how large the offering is.”

HP/UHP overlap

Although consumers will have plenty of options when shopping for HP tires this year, some of that market share will be diluted because of products available in the UHP (ultra-high performance) tire segment, explains Ian McKenney, Senior Product Manager at Bridgestone Americas.

Launched in late 2023, the Bridgestone Potenza Sport AS is the brand’s latest UHP tire with all-season performance. Designed to support popular coupes, sedans and performance crossovers, it’s also a great option for EV owners who want sportier performance. Photo Bridgestone

“Over the last three years,” he says, “we, as an industry, have seen a slight decline in high-performance tire sales in Canada. This shift is largely due to the fact that more car manufacturers are using ultra-high-performance tires as the OEM fitment on their vehicles. As a result, we’re seeing slight growth in consumer demand for ultra-high performance replacement tires as higher speed-rated tires continue to be the standard for most OEM fitments.”

If the HP/UHP overlap weren’t enough to confuse consumers, McKenney says that touring tires can also muddy the waters. “Another reason high-performance tires are declining is because traditional touring tires have moved into this space over the years due to an increase in speed ratings within that category,” he explains. “It’s very common for touring tire lines to now have H (max 130 mph/210 kph) and V (max 149 mph/240 kph) speed ratings that were once reserved for high-performance tires. Now, when it’s time to replace their OE tires, consumers don’t have to solely look within the high-performance category like in the past for a comparable speed-rated tire.”

2024 sales forecast

Regardless of whether consumers are shopping for HP, UHP or touring tires, many in the industry wonder what to expect this spring when their customers come in for a tire change. Will the winter-that-wasn’t have an impact on sales? And how will the economy affect sales numbers?

“In my opinion the winter will have little effect on the HP tire market,” says James McIntyre, Vice President Sales for Canada at Sailun Tire Americas. “In Canada, most people know that cold weather and/or snow is coming for the winter season, and they prepare early. It could potentially change for next winter if consumers have the memory of a mild winter and decide to try to make it through, but these are the people who on the first snowfall you see needing a handout of a ditch or up a hill.”

As far as a spring sales forecast, McIntyre believes we’re likely to see a Goldilocks year where sales aren’t too cold or too hot. “I think we can expect a normal year,” he explains. “More people are back to driving, and they’re heading back to offices and to work in a more typical fashion. More cars on the road should equal more chances of a decent tire season. HP tires usually don’t last as long as your typical touring tire, so it might be time for a new set.”

Electric vehicles

Built with EcoPoint3 technology, the Sailun Erange combines comfort and performance with longevity. Designed for EVs, but suitable for hybrids and ICE vehicles, Sailun recently updated the mileage warranty: 80,000 km for EVs, and 130,000 km for all other vehicles. Photo Sailun

Another area to consider is the electric vehicle (EV) market. The growing number of EVs on the roads today is sure to have an impact on HP tire sales. “EVs are hard on tires,” McIntyre says. “Between the weight and the torque of the vehicle, it’s not usually a good recipe for long lasting tires. A fair number of EVs would use an HP tire to deal with the torque and performance of the vehicles.”

Bridgestone’s McKenney agrees. “With the increasing prevalence of electric vehicles,” he explains, “there is a growing need for an additional level of scrutiny on wear life and noise performance to ensure consumer satisfaction in this segment. Given the hyper-competitive nature of the industry, tire makers are actively seeking distinguishing factors for their products. Therefore, we can anticipate ongoing innovations in the high-performance segment aimed at reducing rolling resistance, preserving range and prioritizing top-tier performance with material sustainability in mind.”

Since we’re likely to see more EVs coming to market in the next few years, tire manufacturers will need to keep pace in order to satisfy the demand for tires that tick all the boxes for EV owners.

“As manufacturers continue to offer electric and hybrid vehicles,” McKenney concludes, “the high-performance and ultra-high performance tire segments will continue to evolve to meet the unique requirements of these vehicles without trading off expected performance.”


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