UHP All-Season Tires: Q&A with Curtis Brison, President, Hankook Tire America

UHP A/S Tires: Q&A with Hankook Tire America President

The world may never run short on drivers looking to improve their car’s performance, but these drivers have yet to fully congregate in areas of the world where it stays warm and sunny year-round. Sometimes sporty driving has to wait until it stops raining or, God forbid, snowing.

Thankfully, the UHP tire market hasn’t limited itself to the summer driving season for this very reason. Combining the best of both worlds, UHP all-season tires are built to push performance boundaries no matter the season. This was the goal of Hankook Tire’s latest UHP all-season tire, the Ventus S1 AS – to deliver the expected performance benefits even in the snow – and to say Hankook Tire America’s president Curtis Brison was excited to talk about it would be a massive understatement.

Read on as we ask Brison about the R&D choices that went into manufacturing this tire, why where manufacturing takes place is important and tips for tire dealers to move this new tire.

Did your engineers have any specific car models in mind that might make the “ideal” spec for the new All-Season Ventus S1 AS tire?

With the new Ventus S1 AS tire, we’re targeting premium sports cars, SUVs and CUVs – performance vehicles that are preferred by performance-loving drivers that want to enjoy their car’s dynamic driving features year-round and across all seasons. Thanks to modern advancements in tire engineering and R&D, we’re able to deliver an enthusiast-centric product that meets customer expectations and provides a level of performance usually reserved for season-specific tires. That’s a remarkable development inside the tire industry and an even more unique opportunity for performance customers that want to enjoy their car year-round.

With the release of this new tire, you said “the ultra-high-performance all-season segment is becoming one of the most innovative and exciting markets in the industry.” Can you point to some of the innovations from the past couple of years that come to mind, and why you feel these features are helping to push the envelope in general tire development?

UHP all-season tires must withstand all four seasons and maximize the performance of high-performance cars. That’s why the Ventus S1 AS is such a premium product. We studied rubber compounds and properties, tread patterns, internal structures, and materials to create our best UHP all-season tire to date. In the future, we will continue to conduct research and development tailored to changing market trends.

At a time when North American tire dealers are still having issues filling inventory due to overarching supply chain issues, how important is it for Hankook Tire to produce this new Ventus S1 AS almost exclusively at its Clarksville, Tennessee plant?

The Ventus S1 AS is made for the U.S. market, with U.S. consumer demand front and center of development for this new tire. That means we need to be able to deliver not just on the technology and performance, but also on our inventory in the U.S. to maximize customer satisfaction. In addition, producing the Ventus S1 AS at our Clarksville plant provides us with an advantage of local to local supply and filling demand, and reinforces our commitment to growth in this market.

Snow traction isn’t typically a stand-out feature in UHP tire development. How did Hankook Tire achieve good snow-driving performance with these tires? Why did Hankook Tire decide good snow traction was important to get right in the Ventus S1 AS?

For all-season tires, it’s most important to balance the performance of the four seasons. In the case of UHP, one of the major goals is to improve the light snow performance which is a trade-off relative to the dry and wet performances. We continued research and development to achieve this, and as a result, balanced performance was achieved by optimizing compound, tread patterns and inside structures.

Consumers running UHP tires are often knowledgeable about tire performance and typically do their homework before they’re ready to buy. What are some of the standout attributes of the Ventus S1 AS tire that tire dealers should know about to help them sell these tires?

The Ventus S1 AS has been designed to perform across various road conditions and satisfy high-performance driving benchmarks. That starts with our new four-season high-performance compound that enhances grip across all road surfaces. This innovative compound is further complimented by the tire’s asymmetric tread pattern with two specific interior and exterior arrangements.

The outside section of the Ventus tire features a wider and stiffer tread block arrangement that translates to better handling in dry conditions, lateral stability and steering response that a driver expects from a high-performance product.

Meanwhile, the interior portion of the tire includes a wider lateral groove pattern that helps with not only water evacuation but also light snow performance. By increasing the sipe density, the interior section also has more biting edges, which are especially important in snowy road conditions.

One additional design feature of the Ventus S1 AS is the applied shoulder chamfer. Due to lateral forces expressed when cornering, the chamfer design aids in suppressing that block edge deformation which translates to better dry performance.

Together, these features ensure improved performance. When compared with the Ventus noble2, the Ventus S1 AS improves wet braking by 8% and snow braking by 9%, and dry handling is improved by 17%.

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