Going On Tour: Nitto Partners With ATD For Its First Luxury Touring Tire - Tire Review Magazine

Going On Tour: Nitto Partners With ATD For Its First Luxury Touring Tire

Nitto Partners With ATD For Its First Luxury Touring Tire

When it comes to testing a premium touring tire, Napa Valley offers all the scenery one needs. Aside from taking in views of one of the greatest wine producing areas in the world, an element that’s equally appreciated is a quiet, comfortable drive through the vine-covered hills to complete the experience. Nitto Tire and its distribution partner, American Tire Distributors, invited a group of select media and dealers to experience both in late April during a ride and drive rollout for Nittos’ new NT850 Premium touring tire.

Guests got the opportunity to experience the tire’s handling both on the road and on the track during the event, which marked the tire company’s first ride and drive event. On-the-road experiences reflected the tire’s ease of handling and its responsive attitude. Moving to the track for dry and wet handling exercises demonstrated the tire’s sporting heritage. Both were indicative of the planning and design put into the tire.

 In business, and particularly within the tire industry, it’s always great to see two companies attacking a single issue and arriving at a solution. In this case, Cypress, Calif.-based Nitto is the manufacturer of the NT850 Premium, while ATD is the exclusive distributor. The tire will be sold through ATD’s independent tire dealer network and will be backed by a nationwide marketing campaign that includes in-store displays, as well as print and online advertisements.

The partnership is key for Nitto, a subsidiary of Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., because the small company’s name does not yet have full recognition with consumers in the OE or replacement markets, said Tomo Mitzutani, president of Nitto.

“This new line of Nitto-branded touring tires will be very appealing to our dealers,” said Ron Sinclair, ATD’s senior vice president of marketing. “The Nitto NT850 Premium is an extremely well-engineered product, covering many key luxury sedan sizes and, given the Nitto NT850 will be offered exclusively by American Tire Distributors, will not be a product sold on every street corner.”

Tire Features
Better known for its light truck, high performance and ultra high performance offerings, Nitto added a little twist to its portfolio in producing the NT850 Premium, the company’s first luxury-touring tire.
With the NT850 Premium, Nitto has extended its lineup to include direct replacement tires for popular luxury sedans.

Conrad Galamgam, director of Nitto’s technical department, said, “the NT850 Premium is a luxury touring tire that is engineered using Toyo’s advanced, patented manufacturing process. This process creates an exceptionally balanced tire that reduces vibration and provides a smoother, quieter ride.”

The process ensures tire uniformity, resulting in greater driver comfort, Nitto said. In addition, a uniform tire requires less weight to balance, resulting in fewer out-of-round problems. This will save dealers time and money, as well as provide peace of mind for their customers, he noted.

The tire’s serrated sidewalls are designed to break up the repetitive sound waves that are audible on traditional tires. In addition, an added cushioning layer around the interior steel belt package reduces tire noise throughout the life of the tire, Nitto said. Deep circumferential grooves channel away water for performance in inclement weather, while large tread blocks and continuous ribs increase tread stiffness for performance in dry conditions.

The tire’s non-directional asymmetric tread pattern is designed to enhance cornering performance, Nitto said.

“The engineers wanted to create a long-lasting tire,” said Galamgam. “The unique compound extends tread life without sacrificing safety, quietness or performance.”

The NT850 Premium is available in sizes that fit a wide range of compact-, mid- and full-sized luxury sedans, like the Audi A4, Lexus LS and Mercedes E Class. The sizes include 17- and 18-inch wheel diameters and 45- to 60-series sidewall profiles. All sizes are V speed rated and have a treadwear rating of 500, traction rating of AA and temperature rating of A. Each tire is backed by a 50,000-mile limited treadwear warranty, according to Nitto.

The 18-inch sizes of the NT850 Premium are being produced at Toyo’s automated plant in White, Ga. Currently, 17-inch sizes are being manufactured in Japan, but production is expected to eventually move to Georgia as well, Nitto said.

Reaching Dealers
In the past, because it is a smaller-sized tire manufacturer, Nitto has wrestled with limited distribution. The company plans to avoid this problem in the case of the NT850 Premium by partnering with ATD, which bills itself as North America’s largest tire distributor. The result will be plenty of exposure for the tiremaker’s first broadline tire, Mitzutani said.

Dan Seitler, senior vice president of procurement for ATD, added that the success of this partnership began to show right from the beginning, based on the fact that the time frame from initial discussions to the final product release was just 18 months. “Not to mention that shipment of the product has already begun to 82 ATD warehouses in the U.S.,” he said.

Several dealers at the event also expressed their satisfaction with Nitto’s new tire, including George Hoellen, president of T.O. Haas Tire in Lincoln, Neb. “There’s not a lot of tire lines that offer exclusivity, so this is a real positive,” he said.

Steve Shock, general manager of Plains Tire in Logan, Utah, said, “Our premium touring business continues to increase and we’ve had a real need for a tire like this. We started carrying Nitto because our customers asked for them in light truck applications, and we’ve had good experience with the company.”

David Armstrong, president of The Tire Corral in McAllen, Texas, and a semi-finalist of Tire Review’s 2007 Top Shop Award, said, “A premium touring tire is a growing business for our customer base and we’re looking forward to seeing how our customers accept the NT850.”

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