Federal on the Road to Establishing Sports Pedigree - Tire Review Magazine

Federal on the Road to Establishing Sports Pedigree

When meeting Federal Tire’s Jamie Ma for the first time, the enthusiasm the chairman holds for his company and the tyres it makes feels thick enough to grasp with both hands.

“I am different from the CEOs of most tyre companies,” he states. “They are just trustees of their firms, you could say, elected to serve a few years. My position at Federal is not like that.” As the third generation to serve in his family’s Taiwan-based business, Ma claims to be, at age 34, the world’s youngest CEO of a tyre company. And that said, he adds his comparative youthfulness will be, he believes, a factor making all the difference for Federal. “When I execute a programme, I have years in which I can do it,” he explains. “Jamie Ma plans another 30 years in the business.”

Federal Tire’s main purpose for attending Reifen 2008 was to launch its latest tyre, the 595RPM. Designed for super cars and aimed, says Ma, at Pirelli’s R-Zero Rosso, the Michelin Pilot Sport 2, Bridgestone Potenza RE050A and Yokohama’s Advan Sport, the 595RPM is available in a large range of fitments for rims between 17 and 22-inches.  The tyre carries a UTQG tread wear rating of 160, adds the chairman, and the asymmetric tread – the first such pattern to feature on a Federal UHP tyre, is designed with an outer shoulder that gives greater traction plus additional siping on the inner area for optimised ride qualities.

Displayed near the 595RPM is the 595RS-R, and Ma’s true passion becomes evident when explaining the spirit in which this tyre was designed. The head of Federal Tire is an unashamed racing enthusiast – and his FIA racing license, which accompanied the chairman to Reifen 2008, proves he is not simply just another armchair racer. “The 595RS-R is a road legal semi-slick compound,” he remarks with a grin, initiating those within earshot into a secret perhaps best kept from local law enforcement authorities. “If the police pulls a driver over, and he has 595RS-R tyres, they can’t do anything. They have a 6.2mm tread, like a pre-buff, and are totally street legal. But underneath it’s purely a competition tyre.” The tyre is reinforced with a steel filler structure in the sidewall; in fact, the entire carcass is reinforced so it can handle the type of abuse dealt out during high speed competitive driving. Ma summarises the design brief for the 595RS-R succinctly: “Inside is a track tyre, with a street legal exterior.”

Also present at the Federal Tire stand is the 595EVO. The ‘EVO’ part of the name is short for evolution, a fitting choice for this second generation product based upon the successful 595, winner of a 2006 Taiwan Excellence Award. Aimed at the tuning aftermarket and pitted against products in the Bridgestone, Falken and Yokohama stables, the V, W and Y speed rated tyre range features a silica based compound (Ma comments it is much stickier than that of the 595-RSR, making it a good intermediate tyre), polyester carcass, jointless full band and a directional tread that facilitates water dispersal from the contact area. Upon its initial launch earlier this year the 595EVO was available in seven sizes; according to Ma more than fifty further sizes are currently under development.

Tamer Federal Tire products displayed at the Reifen show bore testimony to the wide range the Taiwan-based manufacturer produces; Federal is not just a tyre for petrol heads. The Formoza range, titled after the alternative name for Federal and Ma’s homeland, is a respectable touring range available in a number of performance levels – the latest addition to the range is the AZ01 and the FD02, the second of which is aimed at high end luxury vehicles such as the BMW 5 and 7 series, Mercedes and Audi A8L. Winter tyres were represented by the Himalaya range.

Federal Tire’s other brand is Hero. This is a marque with a long established history, explains Ma. “Hero has been a famous brand in China for 50 years. It was acquired by Federal in 1997, and we’ve bought to the brand benefits from Federal in the areas of management, technology and, most importantly, service. We’ve made on-time delivery a top priority for the Hero brand.” A complete range, including passenger car, van, truck and winter tyres is available. (Tyres & Accessories/Staffordshire, U.K.)

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