By Chuck Crumbo
Published April 4, 2012
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- In Florida, a chain of discount tire stores often ran commercials during the local TV newscasts featuring a pitchman who’d drawl “tiires ain’t purrtee.”
Well, tires may not be “purrtee” but they’re an important ingredient in selling a new car and winning customer loyalty, according to J.D. Power and Associates.
And, tires made in South Carolina and the Southeast are an essential part of the car-buying equation, according to the market research company.
|Michelin has car and truck tire manufacturing facilities across the Southeast, including in Greenville, Lexington, and Spartanburg, S.C., and Dothan and Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Photo provided by Michelin)|
Michelin, which has its North America headquarters in Greenville, ranked highest in customer satisfaction in three of the four segments in the J.D. Power’s Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Study.
Michelin received the industry’s top honors in the luxury, passenger car and truck/utility segments, scoring above the industry average in each category.
In the luxury segment, customer feedback on Michelin’s Latitude Tour HP model scored 54 points higher than the average. The tire accounts for 40% of Michelin’s Luxury fitments and can be found on Lexus RX, Cadillac SRX, and Acura MDX. Fitment is an engineering term referring to an accessory attached to an assembly of parts
In the Passenger Car segment, Michelin scored 54 points above segment average, and the brand rated 60 points above average in the Truck/Utility segment. Michelin fitments include Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra and Honda Pilot.
The 2012 honors, brings Michelin’s lifetime total of J.D. Power awards to 69, more than any other tire manufacturer since the study launched in 1989.
In the Southeast, Michelin has car and truck tire manufacturing facilities in Greenville, Lexington, and Spartanburg, S.C., and Dothan and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
As far as other brands with S.C. connections, Bridgestone ranked No. 3 in the Truck/Utility and Sport segments, No. 5 in the Luxury Car segment, and No. 7 of in the Passenger Car segment.
Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., Bridgestone has a manufacturing facility in Aiken County, S.C. Bridgestone also is investing about $1.3 billion in expansion of its South Carolina operations. Bridgestone’s other tire-manufacturing facilities in the Southeast for cars and trucks are in LaVergne and Morrison, Tenn., and Wilson, N.C.
Continental ranked No. 4 in the Luxury and Sport segments, No. 6 in Passenger Car, and No. 8 in truck/utility. Continental, which has its North America headquarters in Fort Mill, S.C., is investing $500 million in a new plant in Sumter.
Having good-performing tires on a new car is important to car makers, the study said.
When customers are highly satisfied with their vehicle’s original tires, they’re likely to be loyal to the vehicle brand, and more likely to return to the dealership for maintenance and repairs, and future tire service.
“It is important for tire and vehicle manufacturers to understand how tire satisfaction affects both vehicle brand and dealer loyalty,” said Brent Gruber, senior manager at J.D. Power. “High tire satisfaction positively influences owner perceptions of their vehicle.
“By choosing a better performing tire for its vehicles, not only are manufacturers in a position to build greater loyalty for their brand, but they’re also increasing the potential for future service business at dealerships.”
Reach Chuck Crumbo at 803-401-1024, extension 204.