Falken Breaks Into North American Winter Market - Tire Review Magazine

Falken Breaks Into North American Winter Market

Spring is usually the time for coming out parties. For Falken Tire, winter – in snowy and cold Montreal – worked just fine.

The company, which has built its reputation in the high performance market, is coming out with a series of tires targeting a broader audience, kicking off a planned series of launches with the Eurowinter HS439, its first winter tire for the North American market.

Already available in Europe, the HS439 will arrive on this side of the pond this spring, and will be available for orders for next year’s winter season.

The tire was put through its paces by dealers and media at the iCar facility in Mirabel, Quebec, where the launch event attendees experienced the M+S rated tire on BMWs, Toyota Camrys and Subaru Legacys in a variety of snow and ice conditions.

The HS439 is the first of a series of new tires coming from Falken. Over the next 18 months, Falken will be adding a pair of all-terrain light truck/SUV lines, two premium touring tires, another winter line and possibly an R-compound tires.

Drivers at the Mirabel facility had the opportunity to run the tire on an accident avoidance course, a circular drift track, a full autocross run and compete in a unique “formula finesse” event that tested a driver’s ability to maintain smooth control while negotiating a series of turns on shifting street conditions.

The asymmetric HS439, first unveiled at last year’s SEMA Show, features four circumferential grooves for water and slush dispersion, and hundreds of multi-angled sipes in a silica-based tread compound for long-wearing all-weather traction and braking ability.

The tire is hitting the market in 31 Euro metric sizes, covering 13- through 19-inch wheel diameters.

According to Richard Smallwood, Falken’s president and COO, the Eurowinter HS439 is just the start. With just 31% size coverage among all of its current tires, Smallwood said, Falken’s goal is to deliver a broader array of products and boost its market coverage to well above 65% by the end of 2010.

Toward that end, Falken plans to add light truck/SUV lines High Country AT later this year, and the Wild Peak AT, a more aggressive on-/off-road line, in early 2010.

Smallwood also said that a pair of premium touring lines are in the works, with planned rollouts over the next 18 months, and the 2010-11 winter season will get another Falken winter line, coming in 14 studless sizes.

The goal is to become a broader, more valuable supplier to its dealer body, which now covers more than 5,000 points of sale. Smallwood sees the current economic situation as a golden opportunity as he feels dealers will be looking for fewer, more reliable brands that can deliver a wider range of products.

To help meet customer needs, Falken will soon open a new 250,000-sqauare-foot distribution center in Dallas, its fourth in the U.S. (Tire Review/Akron)

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