In the last year, Nexen Tire America has launched four tires in key segments with no plans of stopping. It has also moved its headquarters from southern California to Richfield, Ohio, to be closer to its R&D center, and has doubled down on its motorsports partnerships and OE fitments. So, how is the tiremaker faring with such change? And what segments is it focusing on?
We found out in this episode of What’s Treading with Tire Review, presented by AAPEX 2022. In this episode, we’re joined by Jason Yard, marketing director for Nexen Tire America. Jason has extensive experience in various marketing positions in the automotive sector, previously working with Malco Products before coming to Nexen.
Jason describes the synergies Nexen has gained with the move of its HQ, how each of Nexen’s new tire launches are serving the market and goals for Nexen’s OE business and marketing its dealers can take advantage of to spread brand awareness.
CLICK HERE to listen to the episode.
- Synergies Nexen Tire America has achieved with its R&D by moving its HQ from southern California to Richfield, Ohio (0:29)
- How Nexen’s recent launch of the Roadian ATX fits into its light truck product line and improvements made from its predecessor (3:11)
- The importance of adding the Roadian HTX2 and N’Fera Sport R to Nexen’s product lineup (5:36)
- How Nexen’s average of four OE fitments per year has helped the brand gain momentum (8:49)
- Nexen’s marketing focus, including its motorsports and overland actvitions, and why they are important for the brand (10:28)
- How dealers can use the Nexen Garage (12:26)
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Maddie Winer, Tire Review Editor: Nexen Tire moved its headquarters from southern California to Richfield, Ohio in the last year, just up the road from us in Akron. Can you describe how the move has been strategic for Nexen’s business?
Jason Yard, Nexen Tire marketing director: The move was really strategic for a number of factors. One, we have this R&D Center that we opened in 2019 here. It’s a brand new facility, and it’s beautiful. It has all the accouterments that you’d want in a nice complex. So we’re able to bring customers in, and have good meanings and meaningful dialogue in an area that’s close to the rubber industry. It also allows us to collaborate with our R&D team and with our OE team, so that we’re all talking the same language and know what each other are doing.
I think another factor was just the cost and things associated with California. But it’s really about the synergies and being able to use this facility for the whole company and show it off.
MW: Can you give an example of the synergies that have been achieved?
JY: You know, the OE team is always working on what the next fitment will be and a lot of that R&D collaboration translates into replacement tires. They’re not only making tires for OE fitments, but they’re also taking some of that same technology and working it into the replacement tire. So, we kind of get a heads up of it, and even get direction about what our customers are looking for so that we put all of our assets together to bring great tires to market.
MW: I wanted to touch on one of Nexen’s newest tire launches: The Rodian ATX. Can you describe how that tire fits into Nexen’s light truck product lineup and what improvements have been made from its predecessor?
JY: We’re pretty excited about the Roadian ATX. It’s a game changer. The biggest growth market is really the light truck and SUV market. That’s no secret. The AT Pro, its predecessor, actually won several design and functionality awards in the past several years. So, we didn’t want to change it dramatically, but obviously, times change, compounds change, technology changes, so it was time to upgrade it. It [Roadian ATX] has a three-ply sidewall on most sizes. That rigidity gives the user more towing capability, more load and a higher PSI– things that not everybody is looking for in an A/T tire, but it’s an all-around tire for everything.
If you want that more aggressive look, if you want more towing capability, you have all of it in one tire [with the ATX]. The biggest change or improvement is the tread design and look and feel of it. We got the feedback that the AT Pro was a great tire, but maybe needed to be a little sexier, just cool on the sidewall and aesthetics that people look for that when they’re looking for an A/T tire because they’re not using it off-road every day. They have occasional offroad use. but they want it to look cool. That’s what this does. It has a cool lizard skin type of texture on it. There’s a dual sidewall. If you want a more conservative look, you flip it around when you mount it. That feature is unique to Nexen and we’ve started that on most of our light truck tires– you can have a more conservative or more aggressive sidewall. We’re pretty proud of it. It’s getting good reviews so far.
MW: Very cool. Nexen also released some tires at SEMA last year: the N’Fera Sport R, which is an extreme UHP tire, and the Rodian HTX2, a highway terrain tire. So, can you give me an overview of these products and the reason behind their release in those specific categories?
JY: Sure. Since coming to Nexen, I’ve learned that we have quite the enthusiast following in sport racing. So, the N’Fera Sport R is really just the next evolution of our N’Fera SU4G. It’s great for amateur racers, for the weekend guy who just wants to have good grip on the road and also the professional. We also support Formula Drift and the [N’Fera Sport R] and those tires and technology are perfect for keeping you pinned to the asphalt. We’ve found through a lot of third-party testing and some of our drivers that we work with that it actually gives improved grip and speed. They’re pretty happy with it so far.
The Rodian HTX2 is the same thing – and evolution of the product. We’ve had the HTX for a number of years, and it’s OE on several vehicles. But it needed to evolve, and the biggest, take away from that tire is really all-weather capability. It’s got the three-peak mountain certification. That’s something that most highway tires can’t claim, especially in a high mileage– up to 70,000-mile– treadwear warranty. That one has been doing really well for us, and it keeps going back to that light truck and SUV market growth. We have to keep up with it.
MW: Right. SEMA put out a report recently that predicts that the light truck market, especially CUVs, will just keep expanding. So, I did want to talk about Nexen’s OE fitments. I know the Roadian GTX has snagged four OE fitments on four SUVs. So how do these fitments and Nexen’s OE business affect the marketability of the products?
JY: It’s a huge synergy and something that has been a main focus for a number of years. We really entered the OE market in the US around 12 to 15 years ago, and we’re one of the fastest growing OE fitments in the US. That has really pushed our brand, and obviously, brand awareness. If you have tires on your car that say one thing, and you need replacements, you’re always going to look at that brand again unless there was some kind of issue. We have relationships with about a dozen OE manufacturers in the US, and it’s continuing to grow. We are getting fitments on at least two to four vehicles every year, so, it’s been good.
MW: With Nexen, so many new products have been launched recently, which is great. So what will be Nexen’s focus in the Americas this year and going into next year?
JY: With marketing, it’s brand awareness. Nexen can definitely improve. That’s one thing we’re really pushing for—aligning with more sports teams, doing more sports marketing, doing more with ou different motorsports programs. Right now, we’re working on an Overland Expo event and doing a ride-and-drive. That’s something that supports that light truck and SUV market, and we’re excited to align with it. We’re going to continue to be present at trade shows like SEMA and do things in the industry that, keep Nexen at the top of people’s minds.
We’ve had three significant tire launches since SEMA, and we had one more winter tire we launched as well. So, four new tires in a year for us is a big deal. We’ve tried and strived to do at least one a year for the last 12 years or so. This year with four, there’s just a lot of activity and a lot of excitement around it. So, we’re trying to get the materials out there and make sure people are aware of [the new tires] and talking about them.
MW: One way you guys do that is with the Nexen Garage, correct? Can you describe for people who might not know what that is?
JY: The Nexen Garage was really born out of our dealer feedback. Dealers said, ‘Hey, I want a one-stop-shop for all of your resources. You guys have a lot of good collateral. You have some really cool technology pieces.’ For our Nexen Dealer network, our social media and social platforms allow a dealer to kind of piggyback on our social media, which is great. And all of our logos, photos, videos–all that stuff is housed in one place on the Garage. It’s an easy place for a dealer to say, all right, here’s what I need. Grab it and go. They’re not searching for it or calling the rep saying, ‘Where do I go for this?’ It’s really been well-received and it’s a good resource.
MW: That’s great. Now, you mentioned four tires. Is that right over, just in the past year? We’re filming this towards the end of June. So, any launches in different segments coming up that you can share?
JY: Unfortunately, I can’t. We’re a little too early on in the process, but there’s always going to be something. There are definitely some things in the works for next year. There are always improvements and a few segments that we’re kind of in and out of. But, yeah, we’re definitely looking for a few more launches in the next year.