The latest editions to the Cooper Tire Commercial Series lineup signify the company’s move from just a provider of tires to owner-operators and small fleets, to one that that offers original equipment options to fleets of all sizes.
“We now have this full complement of long-haul products, which allows us to get in the door with fleets,” Gary Schroeder, executive director of Cooper’s Global Truck and Bus Tire Business, told FreightWaves.
The company announced its Pro Series LHT (long-haul tire) at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show, ensuring that the Pro Series now offers high-performance drive, steer and trailer tires for fleet customers.
Schroeder said the tire line expansion is part of Cooper’s strategic plan to build its fleet business. Until the last few years, Cooper was best known for offering its Roadmaster brand, sold in dealer locations throughout the country, mostly to owner-operators and small fleets. That brand is still going strong, but the Pro Series opens doors to fleet customers that want a more premium tire.
“The [customer] is looking for tires that offer the lowest cost of ownership,” Schroeder said. Upfront price is important to fleet customers, but they are also looking for fuel efficiency, miles to removal and a high value for the casing for retreading.
“It comes down to the cost of ownership,” he added. “There are all kinds of reasons fleets choose a tire … but it really comes down to the most bang for the buck.”
Schroeder said side-by-side testing of the Pro Series with competitive brands has shown that the Cooper tire more than holds it own in these areas. The tires also come with a seven-year, two-cap warranty with full replacement value for 50% of the tread should the tire fail during the warranty period.
“We build a very high-quality product,” Schroeder said. “We demonstrate the quality of the product” with thousands of miles of testing and comparison studies.
Each Cooper tire features unique “wear squares” that allow drivers to quickly see tread wear, and whether is it even across the tread. Squares are designed to wear with the tire, but as each line of the square wears away, it visually indicates how much wear has occurred. If one square is missing one line, and the square on the other side of the tread is missing two, there might be an alignment issue. Each line also represents a percentage of the tire’s overall tread depth.
“We’ve had a lot of success with a lot of the larger fleets that we’ve shown the tires,” Schroeder said, believing that getting the fleets to try the tire is a key to ultimate placement. Cooper’s Work Series tires, designed for regional haul applications, are standard tires on Blue Bird buses. Cooper also offers the Severe Series for mixed-service applications.
The Commercial Series was first launched in May 2018.
Within the Pro Series, Cooper offers the LHS (long-haul steer), LHD (long-haul drive) and LHT (long-haul trailer).
The LHS offers 18/32nds of tread, a wide footprint and a decoupling groove for even wear. The LHD is 30/32nds of tread depth and features a closed shoulder. The LHT has 12/32nds of tread depth.
All three tires are SmartWay Verified and meet Cooper’s Low Cost Ownership standard. The LHS and LHT are also ECO (Energy Conservation Optimization) rated.
ECO tires offer ultra-low rolling resistance and exceed SmartWay standards by at least 15%, Schroeder explained. The Low Cost Ownership standard is Cooper’s acknowledgement that tires are “competitively priced and provide a superior balance of fuel efficiency and tread wear.”
Schroeder said additional tires will be offered in 2020. For now, the Pro Series is available in most major tire sizes and load ratings.