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Six new tires leads aggressive push by Falken

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Falken Tire Corp. plans to be very aggressive in the marketplace in 2009 and beyond, with six new tires in the works, according to company officials.

During the official launch of the Eurowinter HS439 in Montreal, Quebec, Falken President and COO Richard Smallwood said the company was increasing its advertising and promotional budget by 30% this year as it continues to build its brand in the United States and Canada.

In addition, Falken soon will have its more than 250,000-square-foot warehouse in Dallas up and running, That will give the company four in the United States. The company would like to open a fifth warehouse somewhere in the Midwest in 2010.

But the big push will be in new products that either will give Falken a presence in a new market or will compliment exisiting offerings. The Eurowinter HS439, introduced at the Specialty Equipment Market Association Show in Las Vegas last November, features a new silica compound designed to keep the tread flexible in cold weather conditions, and multi-angled sipes that provide traction on both snow and ice.

It initially will be available in 31 sizes -- including 10 sizes with aspect ratios of 50 or less -- by the end of August. (For more information, see "SEMA Show, Day Two: Falken embraces cold weather with performance winter tire," Nov. 5, 2008.)

Another new winter tire is on the drawing board. It tentatively will be available in 14 studless sizes for the 2010-2011 winter season.

Two light truck tires will be introduced in successive years. The High Country AT is in production and will be launched in May or June of this year. It will be available in "more traditional" AT tire sizes, according to Smallwood.

The Wild Peak AT will be introduced in March 2010 in more than 40 sizes, including large outside diameter sizes "appealing to off-road enthusiasts," he added.

A performance touring tire will be introduced before the end of the year. Andrew Hoit, Falken's director of marketing, said the tire will be available in "commodity sizes."

The company's first premium performance touring tire will debut by the end of 2010 or early 2011. Featuring high mileage, a comfortable ride and low noise, it will be available in 16- through 18-inch sizes.

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