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Automotive Trends

Stephen G. Dye

  

  

In the event that you haven't noticed, giant wheels and tires are a cool thing these days. Recently, CommonDriver published a feature article about the new prototype 335/25VR26 tire by Yokohama. That's right, 26-inches. The response from our readers was overwhelming. Some folks loved the idea of such enormous wheels and tires. Others said that this is a trend that's beginning to go too far. However you feel, there's no doubt that oversized wheels and tires will be one of the hottest markets in the automotive industry during 2002.

  

    

    

    

    

 

The good news gets better. The wheel market is rapidly expanding. This year, American automotive enthusiasts will have more choices than ever before, which gives rise to competitive pricing. An estimated two-times as many custom wheel manufacturers will be marketing their products to Americans than there were in 1995.

  

    

    

    

 

That could not have been more evident than at this year's SEMA show. Nearly every show car and promotional car on display featured wheels of at least 18-inches in diameter. Wheel sizes of 19, 20, 22 and even 24-inches weren't at all uncommon. The photos you see here were taken both inside and outside the show, and they represent only a small sample of the thousands of shots we had to choose from.

  

    

    

    

    

 

Slowly, the automobile manufacturers are catching on to this craze. But they have several reasons for not slapping on jumbo 24-inch wheels at the assembly line. Larger wheels are typically mated to super-low profile tires, which have a greater tendency to bend rims over bumps and potholes. In addition, the extra cost for such wheel and tire combos is frowned upon by many market-planning executives. 

We'll bet that this automotive trend will continue growing for at least the foreseeable future. If new cars begin to feature better looking, larger wheels and low profile tires as original equipment, the total sales for wheel companies might begin to fade slightly. But since that probably won't happen any time soon, expect the custom wheel market to continue to prosper.

(Below: Candid photo of Road Test Editor Michael Dye reacting to a rather large wheel.) 

  

 

  

 

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