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New tires and pro basketball promotions boost Kumho brand

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New tires and pro basketball promotions boost Kumho brand

Kumho Tire U.S.A. Inc. is replacing its products and refreshing its image in 2015. The company previewed six tires and a brand awareness campaign built around professional basketball at its 2015 dealer meeting in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

The new products for 2015, and the quarters in which they will be released, are:

  • Ecsta V720, an extreme performance summer tire initially available in six sizes in 15-inch to 18-inch rim diameters and W speed rating, first quarter;
  • Ecsta 4XII, a UHP all-season tire in 53 sizes in 15-inch to 20-inch rim diameters, V and W speed ratings with a 40,000-mile tread wear warranty, replaces the Ecsta 4X, second quarter;
  • Solus TA71, a grand touring all-season tire in 38 sizes in 15-inch to 19-inch rim diameters, V and W speed ratings, replaces the Ecsta LX KU27, second quarter;
  • Crugen Premium KL33, an all-season CUV and SUV tire in 30 sizes in 16-inch to 20-inch rim diameters, T, H and V speed ratings with a 50,000-mile tread wear warranty and is an OE fitment on the 2013-14 Hyundai Santa Fe and 2013-14 Kia Sorrento, second quarter;
  • Road Venture AT51, an all-terrain tire in 43 P-metric and LT-metric sizes, in 15-inch to 20-inch rim diameters, replaces the Road Venture AT KL78, second quarter; and
  • Solus TA11, a touring all-season tire in 44 sizes in 13-inch to 18-inch rim diameters, T speed rating, 70,000-mile tread wear warranty, replaces the Solus KR21, third quarter.

In September 2014, Kumho released the Solus TA31, a high-performance all-season tire in 28 sizes in 14-inch to 18-inch rim diameters, T, H and V speed ratings and 60,000-mile tread wear warranty. An OE fitment on the 2014 KIA Soul, 2014 Chrysler 200, and 2014 Hyundai Sonata, the Solus TA31 replaced the Solus KH16.

Eric Domme, sales manager at Lisac’s Tire Inc. in Butte, Mont., says his company is “definitely looking forward to” the AT51 all-terrain tire. “Since we’re in LT country, 60% to 70% of our sales are LT. We know the AT51 will be a big seller. We’re pretty fired up about it.” He expects high demand for Ecsta 4XII, the UHP all-season tire, too. The TA31 launched last September is also selling well for the company, which has four retail and two wholesale locations in Montana.

Kumho CEO and President Harry Choi says the company has taken two steps to resolve recent product availability issues. One was to relocate production of tires for the North American market from its plants in China to plants in Korea and Vietnam (the Chinese capacity is now used for the European market). The other was to increase production of original equipment fitments.

Kumho’s first plant in the U.S. is in Macon, Ga., and is scheduled to begin producing four million tires annually in January 2016. The plant will be dedicated to OE production in its first phase of operation, which will enable Kumho to increase replacement capacity at other plants. The company is growing its OE presence in North America with 36 fitments for 2015 Chrysler, General Motors, Hyundai and Kia models compared to 28 fitments in 2014. The company is aiming to sell 10 million units by 2018 for a 3.5% share of the U.S. market.

Kumho hits the hoops

The company is raising awareness of the Kumho brand through a professional sports sponsorship. Kumho signed a three-year agreement to be the official tire of the NBA and the NBA Development League (D-League) earlier this year.

“We’re the official tire of the NBA and that brings a lot of collateral with it and a lot of benefits from the sales side, not just the brand building,” says John Hagan, national vice president of sales.

The company’s NBA-related marketing activities create opportunities for dealers to engage customers, according to Hagan. An integrated and intensive marketing program using social media, television, print and digital advertising, subway and train signage, billboards and contests is planned during the National Basketball Association’s All-Star Weekend in February 2015.

Hagan says Kumho is “taking over New York City” for the All-Star Weekend. “We’re hitting every touch point we can possibly hit during this event.” The company will continue its NBA promotions throughout the season.   ■

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