Stable Grand Touring Tire Market Adapts to Vehicle Trends

Grand touring tires are no longer only used on sedans, as they once were. The grand touring offers of today have grown from those of their predecessors to include suitable fitments for sedans, SUVs, and CUVs. These tires offer good grip in all weather conditions, the highest level of ride comfort and noise, enough tread life, and higher speed ratings.

According to David Poling, director of tire development & product marketing for Giti Tire R&D Center (North America) Inc., if grand touring tires are still only considered to be tires for sedans, the segment would be declining as a result of the rise in CUV/SUV vehicles and the decline of sedans.

“Defining grand touring as only sedans is too narrow today and can lead to misunderstanding the market,” the author claims. Grand touring tires are a good choice for many SUVs, CUVs, and sedans. With that criteria, I predict that the market will continue to increase by 2 to 3%.

Market Trends & Future Growth

The speed ratings of ordinary touring and grand touring tires are one of their key distinctions. According to Philipp Schrader, product manager of touring and U.S. winter tires for Continental Tire, this is one aspect ensuring steady growth for the market.

As more vehicles are created with tires that have higher speed ratings, he predicts sustained growth in this market. This was formerly mostly reserved for performance sedans and coupes, but today a wider range of vehicles come with tires that display speed insignia of V and higher — and we don’t anticipate this trend slowing down anytime soon.

In the past, all-season tires with an emphasis on higher speed ratings, all-season performance (including wet braking and mild snow grip), comfort, and prolonged tread life made up the majority of the grand touring market, according to Schrader. All-weather materials that are more focused on wet and winter performance while yet providing competitive highway handling and tread life have recently changed the grand touring market.

The expansion and use of larger rim diameters is another recent trend that has an impact on the touring market, according to Ian McKenney, senior product manager for Bridgestone Americas.

According to him, “new vehicles now feature even higher rim diameters than the previous year, and there are more options than ever for trim level sizes.”

McKenney points out that the increase in speed ratings has had an impact on the touring section. For instance, a car that formerly had a maximum speed rating of T (118 mph) or H (130 mph) now has a maximum speed rating of V (149 mph) or W (168 mph).

“Consumers now have to look for a comparable speed-rated tire when it comes time to replace their OE tires, which means we’re raising speed ratings on touring replacement tires to match the new OE standards,” he says.

According to McKenney, electrification will have an effect on the expansion of the touring segment as well, especially in the coming years. Touring tires will need to develop to adapt to new wear, traction, and noise, vibration, and harshness factors specific to those cars due to the steady growth of electric vehicles (EVs).

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A recent change in the grand touring segment has been the introduction of all-weather products that are more geared toward wet and winter performance, while also offering competitive highway handling and tread life.

Grand Touring Performance

It is useful to contrast grand touring tires with their normal touring counterparts when analyzing their performance needs.

Grand touring tires, in contrast to regular touring tires, are often used on more recent luxury automobiles, according to McKenney. There are other features that distinguish grand from normal touring tires since newer cars have distinct qualities than previous ones, like higher speed ratings and livelier handling.

“Both grand and standard touring tires focus on capable wet and winter performance for all-season reliability,” he claims. “Safety is obviously of the utmost importance, and the market has provided a wide range of touring tires with those characteristics and advantages. The major distinction is that grand touring tires emphasize a quiet, comfortable ride while allowing improved performance capabilities, like higher speeds and livelier handling, in addition to wet and winter capabilities. When it comes to safety, performance, and comfort, it’s a master of all crafts.

Poling concurs that ride quality and noise level are among the most crucial factors to consider when choosing grand touring tires, noting that “customers who buy these tires have high expectations and will be quickly dissatisfied if either of these characteristics adversely affects every mile driven.”

According to Schrader, the standard touring class prioritizes maximum tread life and comfort while still providing competitive light snow grip, outstanding wet braking, and highway handling.

While providing superb comfort, well-balanced wet and dry performance, optimal grip in light snow, and increased tread life, the grand touring segment places a greater emphasis on higher speed ratings, according to the author. All touring tire segments seek lower rolling resistance, which is another crucial performance factor.

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The standard touring segment puts more emphasis on maximum tread life and comfort, while also offering excellent wet braking, highway handling and competitive light snow traction.

Tire Technology Aspects

The grand touring category differs from other tire segments in that its performance is based on technology.

According to Poling, “technically, these tires are better than their less expensive counterparts.” The higher speed ratings of grand touring tires necessitate more robust tire compositions. These tires use enhanced tread compound materials to meet the increasing requirement for best-in-class traction. Given the additional material expenses and R&D that goes into their development, it is only natural that all of this comes at a premium price.

Schrader concurs, pointing out that the tires in this sector stand out from their counterparts in the normal touring segment due to the balance they strike between providing comfort, competitive mileage, good all-season performance, and meeting higher speed requirements.

“Success is measured by finding the right performance balance that exceeds the needs of the consumer, instead of just developing a tire that performs well in some of the key areas and significantly lacks in others,” he claims.

According to McKenney, the touring market requires a tire that actually succeeds in all areas, unlike other tire segments that concentrate on striking out in a few specific performance categories.

The need to design tires that perform well across the board, including providing good wet and winter performance and a quiet, comfortable ride, makes the touring segment unique from a technical perspective, according to him.

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While other tire segments focus on standing out in a few targeted performance areas, the touring segment requires a tire that truly performs in all areas.

Meeting Customer Needs

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According to Schrader, the secret to success in this market is to work closely with your grand touring consumers to understand their requirements and expectations.

According to him, it is crucial to pay attention to the customer’s driving style and preferred performance characteristics while also meeting the load index and speed rating criteria of the customer’s vehicle.

Geographical factors should also be taken into account, says McKenney. Dealers may wish to think about carrying three-peak mountain snowflake-rated (3PMS) touring tires, depending on where they are, to offer improved winter performance without compromising in other areas that are crucial to customers, like ride, wear, and wet weather.

Dealers should also think about which kind of tires offer the level of vehicle coverage buyers are seeking for, he adds, given the wide range of vehicles available in the grand touring sector. For instance, tires for electric vehicles (EVs) must take into mind their special vehicle dynamics, such as continuous longevity to overcome torque problems and greater range. To better serve their clients, dealers must customize the kinds of items they sell to best meet the locations of their customers and their specific vehicle preferences.

Remember, too, that a grand touring tire’s characteristics can improve a customer’s experience while driving on a daily basis in addition to being in line with the customer’s needs.

orking with your grand touring customers to qualify their needs and expectations is the key to success in this segment, according to Schrader.

“Focusing on the customer’s driving habits and preferences of performance characteristics — and making sure to meet the load index and speed rating requirements of the customer’s vehicle — are paramount,” he says.

McKenney adds that it’s also important to consider geography. Depending on their location, dealers may want to consider carrying three-peak mountain snowflake-rated (3PMS) touring tires to provide enhanced winter performance without sacrificing in other areas that are important to consumers — like ride, wear and wet weather.

“Since there is a great deal of vehicle variety for the grand touring segment, dealers should also consider which type of tires provide the level of vehicle coverage buyers are looking for,” he says. “For example, with EVs, tires need to account for their unique vehicle dynamics, such as sustained longevity to overcome torque challenges, along with longer mileage range. It’s important for dealers to tailor the type of products they are selling to best match their buyers’ geography and unique vehicle preferences to serve their customers most efficiently.”

Finally, keep in mind that the attributes of a grand touring tire should not only be aligned with the customer’s needs, but they also can enhance the customer’s everyday driving experience, according to Poling.

“For instance, when compared to most OE tires, a replacement grand touring tire can offer comparable comfort/noise with increased mileage and, in some cases, better all-around traction.”

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