Feature June 1, 2006 by
Jim Anderton, Technical Editor
Goodyear Eagle featuring ResponsEdge Technology
To state the tire business is a dogfight is almost self-evident. Constant downward price pressures and the long shadow of major chains like Canadian Tire and Wal-Mart make competing on price a tough r...
To state the tire business is a dogfight is almost self-evident. Constant downward price pressures and the long shadow of major chains like Canadian Tire and Wal-Mart make competing on price a tough row to hoe for independent tire dealers. One way to fight back is with premium, technology-laden products. Goodyear has introduced a new product in the firm’s Eagle line aimed at the upsell performance touring market called “Eagle featuring ResponsEdge Technology.” That is the full name of the tire and it’s trademarked, but dealers will likely call it the Eagle ResponsEdge.
Technology is the primary selling feature of the new Eagle, and it has two interesting materials in the carcass and under tread areas that should get attention. One is a Kevlar “InsuLayer” (another one for Goodyear’s busy trademark team) which rides where the nylon top cap sits over the twin steel belts just under the tread. It’s an NVH feature that smoothes the ride and lessens vibration. It’s mated to a carcass that uses a very unusual asymmetrical sidewall design that carries carbon fibre reinforcement in the outer sidewall only. It may seem strange, but the concept makes sense. By stiffening the outer sidewall, turning response is firm, but in straight ahead driving, the softer inner sidewall gives a more compliant ride.
The split personality is carried over to the tread pattern, where the asymmetric design looks like a traditional all-season radial on the inner half, and a performance tire on the outer. Even the compound is different in the two zones, with silica on the inner region for wet grip and a grip-compound on the outer region for cornering power.
How does it work? Tire and Wheel Canada tested the Eagle ResponsEdge on Cadillac CTS sedans and 3-series BMWs’ at the Firebird Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona, and found the unusual construction to give a very compliant ride for a sporting tire. It’s hard to tell whether the Kevlar or carbon fibre is the reason, but turn-in is crisp and cornering limits are high for a performance touring tire. Hard-core enthusiasts will likely prefer to trade off some ride quality for more grip, but Goodyear has Eagle products for that audience also.
Goodyear’s, market research feels that upsell consumers perceive high performance as a value-added benefit, even if they’re not sporting drivers, as long as there’s little penalty in ride quality. If the company is correct, they’ll sell a lot of Eagles featuring ResponsEdge Technology. Launching with 24 sizes (five more will be available in the fourth quarter), the new tire ranges from 195/55R15 85V to 235/60R18 103V meaning dealers can sell the new Eagle onto everything from the Toyota Camry to Mercedes CL500. The warranty package includes a 30-day trial period and roadside assistance.
Goodyear has targeted Michelin’s Pilot HX MXM4 and the Bridgestone Turanza LSH, both good products, so look for return volleys from the other majors in the hotly contested upsell sport/touring market. Goodyear is also continuing their major marketing push following Assurance and Fortera, so the product should be at least passingly familiar before the customer arrives in the showroom. With carbon fibre and Kevlar, it’s going to be interesting to see if Goodyear’s competitors will come to market with tires carrying more acronyms and constructions containing unusual materials.