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Nokian says new tires will play key role in growth

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"We are totally renewing our summer and winter tire line-ups," Nokian Tyres plc officials announced late last week during a new product introduction in Ivalo, Finland, that moderntiredealer.com attended. "We have a policy that 25% of our sales has to come from new products."

By "new," Nokian spokesman Kari-Pekka Laaksonen means "launched this year or last year."

Nokian introduced three new tires during the Ivalo event, which also was attended by a number of key Nokian tire dealers and distributors from the United States and Canada.

Two of the tires, a studded passenger tire named the Hakkapeliitta 5 and an SUV tire named the Hakkapeliitta Sport Utility 5, are currently available for order in North America. Another, the WR G2, an all-weather tire, will be available in North America in August 2007.

North America will be a big growth market for Nokian during 2007, Laaksonen told dealers.

Nokian's sales in the U.S. and Canada grew by 18.3% during 2006. North America makes up approximately 9% of the company's total global sales. (The Finnish tiremaker's highest growth region in 2006 was Russia, where the firm's sales rose 70%.)

Nokian's plants in Nokia, Finland, and in Russia (near St. Petersburg), will manufacture approximately nine million passenger tires this year, says Laaksonen.

Nokian also has off-take production agreements in place at facilities in Findlay, Ohio; Slovakia; Spain; India; China; and Indonesia.

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