Performance all-season vs. M&S
Fitting drivers with winter wear
Wind blew across the frozen expanse, layers of black clouds loomed to the south, the temperature hovered at 20 degrees Fahrenheit as I drove the new Volkswagen Golf onto Warners Lake in upstate New York. I was about to use an ice racing circuit to compare performance all-season tires to mud and snow radials.
The idea of comparing these two types of tires was inspired by Thom O'Connor, one of the principals in KT Motorsports, a tire dealer in nearby Voorheesville specializing in performance tires for the Northeast's extreme seasons. As for the difference between performance all-season radials and true mud and snow tires, O'Connor claimed, "There's just no comparison in bad winter weather."
He and his partner, Ken Aldous, sell and distribute Yokohama and Nokia tires from their Albany County shop. Yokohama's product line is well known. Nokia's Finnish-made winter radials have earned a large share of the Scandinavian market, but are known only to a handful of knowledgeable snowbelt drivers in North America.
"We look forward to growth in the U.S. and Canadian markets," said Martin Colderick, Nokia Tires' vice president, North America, whose headquarters is in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. "Winter tire sales should be about 12% of the total passenger tire market, and currently they are far short of this." He acknowledged that all-season tire sales have sliced a portion of this pie, and feels strongly that more customers should be using mud and snow tires.
To back up his claim, Colderick cited government studies gathered over several years in Finland, where there is great concern over safe winter driving.
According to these reports, the probability of an accident increases dramatically when snow-covered roads are salted (they are 11 …