Nexen Tire Corp. capped off a year of expansion projects around the globe with the grand opening of a $5 million tire technology center in northeast Ohio on Nov. 13.
The 33,540-square-foot building in Richfield, a community near Akron, is Nexen's third facility dedicated to tire technology to open in 2019. In addition to the new facility in Ohio, Nexen opened a tech center in Germany as well as a 613,00-square-foot global headquarters for research and development in Seoul, South Korea, called Nexen UniverCity, earlier this year. The company also began production at a new factory in the Czech Republic in April.
Very few, if any, companies are moving this aggressively, Nexen Vice Chairman and Global CEO Travis Kang told guests at the grand opening ceremony of the new Nexen Tire America Technology Center.
“North America is one of the three major markets in the global economy along with Europe and China. And North America, in particular, has been and will continue to be a key market for Nexen’s growth,” said Kang.
Nexen supplied its first original equipment tire to a North American factory in 2013. Since then, the company has supplied more than 6 million tires to OE manufacturers in North America, making Nexen one of the fastest-growing tire companies in the world, according to Kang.
“Nexen is fully committed to the U.S. market. We are 100% dedicated to our OE customers, our replacement dealers, and, ultimately, our end users who drive on our tires every day,” said Kang.
Aaron Neumann, product development manager, described the tech center as Nexen’s “outpost in North America for R&D.”
The facility and its team of engineers develops and designs all of Nexen’s OE tires for U.S. vehicle manufacturers for the North American market. The tech center also designs light truck and sport utility vehicle replacement tires for North America.
OE tire design represents 50% of the tech center’s output, with 25% devoted to developing replacement tires. The remaining 25% of the tech center’s work is related to future tire technology.
“The tires we develop are class-leading performers,” said Neumann. He highlighted Nexen’s OE relationship with FCA US LLC, and said the Roadian HTX tire developed by the tech center for the Ram 1500 helped that vehicle win 2019 Motor Trend Truck of the Year honors.
The tech center also developed Nexen’s first mud-terrain and off-road replacement tire, the Roadian MTX, which is earning rave reviews from enthusiasts, according to Neumann.
In addition, the tech center’s engineers are developing tires and sensor technologies for electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles. A recent project involves the Canoo, a subscription-only electric vehicle introduced by a California start-up company in September 2019. The Canoo model set to be available in 2021 will be fitted with Nexen tires.
“Nexen’s not the biggest tire company, in fact, we’re the 20th-largest tire company. We’re not a budget brand; we’re not the cheapest tire out there. We’re a high-quality tire producer,” said Neumann.
Established in 1942, Nexen is a global tire manufacturer headquartered in South Korea. Nexen works with more than 500 dealers based in 137 countries around the world and owns four manufacturing plants – two in Korea (Yangsan and Changnyeong) one in Qingdao, China, and one in Zatec, Czech Republic.
Nexen produces tires for passenger cars, SUVs, and light trucks. Nexen supplies original equipment tires to global car makers in various countries around the world.