CHICAGO -- Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. on Thursday unveiled a new line of high-end, all-season tires that the company hopes will help fuel its turnaround.
The largest U.S. tiremaker said its new Assurance line of passenger tires will sport a premium price tag as well as cutting-edge technology.
"We hope the value that it adds for customers will warrant the little bit higher margin that we hope to earn on the tires," said Jon Rich, president of Goodyear's North American Tire unit.
Some analysts are enthusiastic about the new tire line.
"In our opinion, this is Goodyear Tire's most important product launch in the last 10 years," wrote Saul Ludwig, an analyst with McDonald Investments, in a research note published Jan. 21.
He upgraded Goodyear stock to "hold" from "underweight" in the report, citing the launch, a major advertising campaign the company is planning to support it, plus other factors.
Goodyear has been struggling for the past three years as its North American Tire unit remains unprofitable. It refinanced its debt last year, eliminated its dividend, stopped matching employee 401(k) contributions and won concessions from its unionized workers in 2003.
The new tires will be available in two different versions starting in the spring at Goodyear's independent dealers.
ComforTred, aimed at luxury car owners, is designed to provide a quiet, comfortable ride. The other, called TripleTred, uses volcanic sand in the center zone to provide traction during icy conditions. The tire also has side zones for wet road conditions and an edge designed for dry conditions.
Rich said the TripleTred will eventually replace Goodyear's popular Aquatred tire, which was introduced in the early 1990s.
The Akron, Ohio-based company also will offer a 30-day no-obligation trial period and an 80,000-mile limited warranty on tread life.