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PSB Q&A: Pirelli seeking growth in V-twin segment

CINCINNATI — Scott Griffin, vice president of Pirelli Tire North America’s motorcycle division, discussed the company’s new entry into the V-twin market as well as some changing consumer dynamics the tire manufacturer saw last year.
Griffin cited the V-twin market and consumer dynamics in a Q&A with Powersports Businesss.
Although Griffin touched mostly on the
V-twin segment, he also mentioned the Pirelli/Metzeler brands have faired well in the adventuring touring segment with its Scorption Trail tire, which was introduced last year, as well as the sport touring market. Metzeler introduced a new product, the Z6 Interact, for the sport touring market at the Dealer Expo in Indianapolis.

Powersports Business: What is your company’s biggest opportunity in 2009?

Griffin: “There are some opportunities for us in the V-twin market with the Pirelli brand. The Night Dragon is finally hitting the market so that’s an opportunity for us. That tire has no competition, so we expect some pretty good growth out of that tire for 2009. It’s a complete line for the V-twin market. It’s a performance tire. It’s not a mileage cruiser tire. It’s a stickier compound and it’s for those baggers who need extra traction. We talked about it last year but because of worldwide production limited capacity to build, we had to delay the project. But it’s in dealerships now.

PSB: What is your company’s biggest challenge in 2009?

Griffin: Our biggest challenge of course remains profitability. But we’ve also noticed a big shift this past year in the mix of what’s selling. Yes, we had a good year last year but we didn’t sell as many of the high-end tires. We sold more of the mid-range products. We’re trying to maintain. Our goal is to create market share, whether it’s in a down market or an increasing market. That’s the No. 1 goal for us.

PSB: You mentioned high-end sales. We’ve heard some companies actually seeing some success with their higher-end products.

Griffin: We’ve seen some growth, but for us it hasn’t been the volumes that we’ve seen (previously). We have a couple of items that are growing but it’s limited. Last year, we saw the mid-range (growth) whereas the custom chopper with the wide rear end wasn’t a growth market like it has been in the past.

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