October 10, 2013
Falken is the No. 1 selling brand in the U.S. for Sumitomo
"We produce (Falken and Ohtsu) in three factories located in Japan, Thailand and Indonesia," says Sumitomo's Ii.
Sumitomo Rubber Industries Inc. (SRI) has multiple brands. Although it sells a brand that bears its name, Sumitomo's flagship brand is Dunlop.
And its second most popular brand? Falken. But in the United States, Falken is number one.
According to Yasutaka Ii, SRI's senior executive officer, Dunlop represents more than 50% of he company's production. Falken represents about 33%.
(Because of the alliance between SRI and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., the Dunlop brand in the U.S. and Europe is controlled by Goodyear.)
Modern Tire Dealer Editor Bob Ulrich recently visited Ii at the Sumitomo Technical Center in Kobe, Japan. Ii (pronounced "E") says the U.S. is the largest and most important market for SRI.
"Falken is growing very rapidly in the North American market… and we will continue to push the Falken brand."
According to Ii, Falken is marketed globally, although its biggest market penetration is in North America and Europe. (SRI recently opened a Falken marketing arm in India.) Falken has more market share in the U.S. than either Dunlop or Sumitomo, which is exclusively marketed by TBC Corp.
"We implemented a multi-brand strategy for passenger and light truck products in North America by using the Ohtsu brand to respond to market changes such as non-RMA share increases and diversified brands. You have so many brands in America!"
And what about the Ohtsu brand, the associate brand to Falken's major brand in the U.S.?
"We do not have any plan to expand the Ohtsu brand into any other market at this point," said Ii.
When asked if Sumitomo had enough capacity to supply is U.S. marketing arm, Falken Tire Corp., with Falken and Ohtsu tires, Ii's answer was pretty emphatic.
"SRI is expanding its production capacities, so we don’t have to worry about supply," he said, adding that there are no plans to build a plant in North America.
A more in-depth interview with Ii will appear in the November issue of MTD.
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