Kumho Is Adding Sizes to the Ecsta V720 and Capacity for LT Tires
A new extreme performance tire will be available to Kumho dealers in March 2016. Kumho Tire Co. Inc. is expanding the size range of the Ecsta V720, which is original equipment on the ACR model of the fifth generation Dodge Viper.
“The V720 is a max performance tire that can be used on the street by enthusiasts. So it’s a tire that can be used for everyday driving or for regional and local competitions,” says Jim Mayfield, executive vice president of marketing and sales for the company’s Kumho Tire USA Inc. division.
The Ecsta V720 will be offered in 17 sizes in 15- to 19-inch rim diameters, V, W and Y speed ratings and no mileage warranty. The Ecsta V720 replaces the Ecsta XS.
Kumho began supplying its newest ultra-high performance summer product to Dodge for the Viper in the summer of 2015. But the Viper edition of the Ecsta V720 was not officially launched to dealers at that time.
That changes in March 2016, when Kumho launches the Ecsta V720 for dealers who participate in the extreme performance category, along with three new lines: Ecsta PS91, an ultra high performance tire; Ecsta PS31, value-priced summer UHP; and Crugen HT51, an all-season light truck SUV tire.
Product launches will be better in 2016
Mayfield assures dealers the rollout out of the four tires will be smoother than last year’s launch of six tires.
“Introducing six new product lines in a very short period of time created some challenges for our customers as they transitioned from one product to another and sold inventory of old products,” Mayfield told Modern Tire Dealer in an interview during the company’s annual dealer meeting Dec. 2-5 in St. Lucia.
“We’re going to roll out three full product lines and our V720 extreme performance tire, which is a category not all dealers participate in. We believe that three products is much more manageable, and I think we’ve done a better of managing the inventory on the old products to a position where we’re not going to have to do any dramatic moves to get rid of that inventory. We learned through the process in 2015 how to do it more effectively and efficiently.”
The feedback from dealers on the tires launched in 2015 has been positive. “It takes time for the dealers to start selling the tires and start gaining confidence in them," says Mayfield. "We’ve gotten very good comments this week on the performance level and consumer satisfaction from our dealers, so we’re very pleased.”
Mayfield says Kumho has opportunities in virtually every segment of the market with retailers and distributors around the country. In particular, the company sees potential for substantial growth in its light truck tire portfolio. “That’s why we were so excited to launch the AT 51 in 2015 and the HT 51 in 2016,” says Mayfield.
More capacity for LT tires for the U.S. market
Kumho’s new factory in Macon, Ga., is set to begin production in January 2016 and will expand capacity for manufacturing light truck tires.
“Other than the fact we’re very excited to have our first factory in the United States, the Macon plant is going to allow us to free up capacity. Other factories will be able to manufacture more large rim diameter tires, which will be very good for us. It will benefit our UHP business and our light truck business by having additional capacity freed up in other factories,” says Mayfield.
Some of the tires being produced at Kumho’s factories in Korea and Vietnam will come to Macon for production. “In Vietnam, we’ve expanded our capacity to make light truck tires. We’re also doing some transitioning in our Korean factory to make more large rim diameter passenger tires. So the combination will allow us to get a richer mix of product. We’re very excited about the additional capacity for light truck tires for the U.S. market,” says Mayfield.
New plant will produce OE and replacement tires
The Macon plant will product tires for both the replacement and OE markets, according to Mayfield. He could not specify the tires to be produced at Macon, except to say one of them will be an additional OE fitment for Audi.
Mayfield says opening a factory in the United States shows Kumho’s commitment to the market. “We are making the investments that are necessary to be successful here. We hope that it sends a very clear message to our customers that Kumho is serious about the business, and we’re going to spend the money we need to spend to support them and be a good partner.”
For more information on the Ecsta V720, visit the company’s website.
For more coverage of the Kumho dealer meeting, see “New Tires, Marketing and Factory Mark a New Era for Kumho.”