All-Weather Segment Has Bright Future, Says Hankook's Brison
Hankook Tire America Corp. is investing to boost its presence in the growing all-weather tire segment by bringing the Hankook Kinergy 4S2 all-weather product to the United States.
All-weather tires currently make up around 5% to 10% of the traditional all-season segment, according to Curtis Brison, Hankook’s vice president of passenger and light truck tire sales.
Hankook believes that percentage will grow and is positioning the Kinergy 4S2 as a premium offering.
Hankook's Brison says all-weather tires currently make up around 5% to 10% of the traditional all-season segment.
Geared toward the U.S.
The all-weather tire value proposition for both consumers and tire dealers is straightforward, says Brison.
“We’re finding that consumers in areas that don’t require a full-time winter product still want” winter tire capabilities “without having to change out tires every winter.”
Available in the U.S. in 45 sizes, the Kinergy 4S2 features a V-shaped tread design and has earned 3-Peak Mountain Snowflake Certification. It also boasts serrated edge grooves and “a slush edge that improves digging force and enhances cornering in snow,” according to Hankook officials.
Hankook introduced the Kinergy 4S2 to the European market in 2018. The tire also has been available in Canada.
“We now have a tread pattern and compound that have been optimized for the U.S. marketplace,” says Brison, who adds that Hankook changed the tire’s original compound “to meet the higher-mileage needs” of U.S. consumers.
All-weather tires also give dealers “another option” when talking with customers, says Brison.
“They now have another tool in their belt. It’s also helpful for dealers. Winter tires can be stressful for dealers,” in terms of inventory.
“You’re getting a bunch of tires early. You're keeping your fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate. Sometimes you’re left short. Sometimes you have a lot (of units) that you can’t sell, moving into the next season.
“A product like this is great because you can sell it year-round,” he adds.
Hankook has made significant investments in its Kinergy product line during 2020.
In April, it announced size additions to the Kinergy PT (H737) and the Kinergy ST (H735.) Two months later, Hankook revealed that it will supply the 2021 Chevrolet Trailblazer with the Kinergy (H436), an all-season product.
These developments are on top of the company securing a Kinergy original equipment fitment on the 2020 Toyota Corolla and launching a Kinergy touring all-season tire.
“We consider Kinergy to be a premium, grand touring all-season product for passenger cars and crossovers,” says Brison.“As those fitments become more popular, we’re going to meet that demand with the Kinergy. We are investing in that line.”
Dealers also can expect more investment in Hankook’s Laufenn brand, which he calls a “nice complement to the Hankook brand and something we’re excited about.”
Brison also provided an update on the production ramp-up at Hankook’s consumer tire plant in Clarksville, Tenn., which shut down for three weeks earlier in the year due to COVID-19.
“We’re running all shifts. We’re wide-open, as they say. Our Tennessee plant has been performing very well - operating all shifts and continuing to meet the demands of our customers. We intend to increase the capabilities of the facility as much as we can.”
The plant - which can produce 13,900 units per day at full capacity, according to MTD research - will take on more production for the company’s U.S.-based OE customers.
“We have a large global footprint of manufacturing. In general, the company is always looking at ways to optimize that. One of those ways is to move production here for domestically manufactured vehicles.
“It makes sense for us and certainly makes sense for those (vehicle) manufacturers. So when and where it makes sense, we will continue to do that. We do produce some OE product at the plant today and we will continue down that path.”