After a few years of supply chain challenges and navigating tariffs, Kenda Tire is looking to expand, as it has released new and updated products in key segments. First, it has made its entry into the all-weather—or what Kenda is calling the “four-season” segment—with its Vezda Touring 4S. Now with updated UHP lines, Kenda hopes to take its “Podium to Pavement” philosophy it has proven in its light truck offerings to the track and gain traction.
To delve into all that is going on with Kenda Tire in North America, we caught up with Ryan Lewis, marketing manager for Kenda’s automotive division, during Industry Week. In this episode of What’s Treading with Tire Review, presented by AAPEX, Ryan delves into what to expect from Kenda this year and how the company is looking to better serve its channel partners.
- Updates on Kenda’s Klever M/T2 product (0:27)
- How Kenda is entering the all-weather segment and why it is referring to it as “four season” (1:29)
- Updates to Kenda’s UHP tire lines and how it aims to prove its “podium to pavement” philosophy in performance racing (3:16)
- Updates on Kenda’s e-learning platform (4:58)
Madeleine Winer, Editor, Tire Review: Kenda has had some interesting product launches recently, most notably the Klever M/T2, which was launched last year at SEMA. So, I wanted to get an update on how that’s doing, and how that’s been received.
Ryan Lewis, Marketing Manager, Automotive, Kenda: With everything going on in the world, we did have some delays in launching that after SEMA this past year. So, we are just now going into production on that M/T2, so where it will start rolling out in January 2023. We have more sizes coming. We’ve even come out with a red-letter version of the M/T2 that’ll be mainly featured on our race sizes in championship off-road racing. But the raised red lettering we’re really excited about. It’ll be a niche-type product—some people will love it, some people will hate it, but it will have people talking. So, that’ll come out here in this upcoming race season in 2023.
MW: Kenda also has a new product that debuted at Industry Week this year. Can you describe what that is?
RL: It’s part of our Vezda brand, which is our passenger car line. We separate our tires based on light trucks and passenger cars. In light truck, it’s Klever line. For a passenger car, it’s the Vezda line. We are debuting the Vezda Touring 4S. And for Kenda, the 4S is four seasons, a true four-season tire, three-peak mountain snowflake certified tire. It’s going to be a great tire.
MW: Obviously, the all-weather segment is gaining popularity. Can you describe the 4S designation?
RL: That’s Kenda’s answer, and in our mind, we’re calling it 4S, meaning four season. From what we’ve gathered talking to our channel partners and consumers, there’s confusion between all-season and all-weather around what do they mean? So, this is our attempt and hopefully clears that up for the consumer. By calling it a four-season tire, [you know] it’s for snow, ice. There’s not a dedicated winter tire, but it is three-peak mountain snowflake certified.
We feel the segment’s growing. It is gaining steam, and we feel like with our development technology, our tech center, that could really add to the segment by coming out with the tire for Kenda.
MW: That’s great. There’s one more tire that you guys have over there at your booth.
RL: Yes. It’s not a brand new tire, but it’s our Vezda UHP and Vezda UHP Max, ultra-high-performance tires for sedans and performance vehicles. But what we’ve done is we’ve come out with a lot more sizes and then on the UHP Max side, we came out with a new compound, which is going to allow us to take that Vezda product and enter it in more motorsports. So, not only is it a drift tire, but we’re going to be participating in autocross and endurance racing. Not to mention it’s still just a great summer UHP tire, but it’ll really help us expand our whole podium to pavement mantra that we are heavy on in the light truck side, but now we can take that more on the passenger car side, competing in these events and hopefully expecting to win a lot of podiums. And these are the same tires that you’ll buy at the store.
MW: So, performance on both ends…
RL: On both ends, yes.
MW: So, the last thing I want to talk about with you is Kenda’s e-learning platform that debuted last year. Can you describe how that’s been received by dealers and where you guys are at with it?
RL: Absolutely. So, Kenda eUniversity debuted this summer, around the time we were celebrating our 60th anniversary. The initial debut was more Kenda-focused, so very high level of Kenda the company, Kenda the brand, our technology center and how we do all that on the front end. The next step from the automotive perspective is really diving deeper into our product training on our Klever line, on our Vezda line and even how we go into the development of those tires to really help educate our channel partners. It’s not only the retailers but also our distributors to really help them take the Kenda message, the premium performance at a value price and help them translate that and to sell tires.
The automotive modules that we’re developing will be starting to roll out over the next few months. It’s our next big thing that is helping us to really try to be a better partner with our channel partners and really give them the information and tools they need to take our message to their customers.