Nitto NT90W: Ready for next winter

April 22, 2013

Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc. is known for thinking and doing things “outside the box.” So when the company wanted to introduce a new tire to its line-up, it chose to use the beautiful Miller Motorsports Park just outside Salt Lake City, Utah, to showcase it.

Nitto invited a highly select group of journalists to attend the ride-and-drive of the company’s new NT90W studless winter tire. Without a cloud in the sky and magnificent snow-capped mountains surrounding the facility, Nitto had the tire perform five different exercises during the day.

Infiniti G37 all-wheel-drive cars were fitted with the NT90Ws to perform an acceleration/braking test; a snow/ice covered skid pad test; an emergency maneuver test; a hill climb test on both 20-degree and 40-degree inclines; and a handling test. The company also tested the original equipment tire, a Goodyear RS-A, and its own Nitto Motivo all-season tire fitted to G37s so drivers could experience the difference between a dedicated winter tire and all-season tire.

William Hong, Nitto’s marketing analyst and project coordinator, says the NT90W was designed to fit crossover vehicles, SUVs and passenger cars. Hong told MTD the tire will be available in 20 T- or H-rated, 16- to 20-inch sizes. The tire will be available to order this month. The tire’s technological features include advanced three-dimensional, multi-wave siping and a silica-infused compound. Hong says the tire is designed for severe winter driving conditions.

The full-depth, winter tire compounding also was formulated with crushed walnut shells (designed to scratch and bite into ice and snow for improved traction) and “bamboo charcoal” (which absorbs water on the road surface).

The company emphasizes its use of sustainable materials in the compounding of the tire.

The tread design is asymmetrical. Hong says the outside tread enhances cornering performance and provides traction as well as lateral and longitudinal stability.

The solid center rib provides straight-line stability, while the inside tread not only provides stable handling in wet, winter and dry conditions, but also improves resistance to irregular wear.

The NT90W initially was designed in Japan and tested at the company’s winter testing facility in Saroma, Japan.

“Based on market feedback about the extreme winter conditions some of our customers experience, we felt there was a need to introduce a tire that showcased our innovative winter tire technology for consumers with late model vehicles who need a true winter tire here in the U.S.,” says Hong.

“We did extensive field research ranging from the Rockies up to the northern Midwest and into the northeastern region of the U.S. to study weather and road conditions. We also surveyed tire dealers in those areas to get a proper understanding of what consumers in those areas experience in extreme winter conditions and what they want out of a true winter tire.  “All these lessons culminated in our decision to introduce the NT90W into our product line-up.”

The tire will be manufactured at Toyo’s plant in White, Ga. Hong says the automated car and light truck tire plant has one million square feet under roof. Production at the plant is more than two million passenger and light truck tires per year, with future production capacity expected to rise to six million tires per year. There are 600 employees at the plant.    ■

About the Author

Greg Smith | Publisher

A 36-year veteran of automotive trade publishing, Greg Smith has held various publishing positions at the management level. He has worked extensively on both the editorial and publishing sides of the business and is a recognized expert in the aftermarket and tire industries. As such, he is a frequent speaker at many industry events. He has traveled internationally as an advocate for the industries he serves.

Currently as publisher of Modern Tire Dealer, Greg is responsible for the brand’s business operations.  MTD is where Greg got his start, and through most of the last three decades, has led it to tire market prominence.  

To support education in the tire industry, Greg leads MTD in its sponsorship of the Tire Industry Association’s Certified Instructor Training Tour, a program designed to train the trainer in proper safety and step-by-step procedures for proper wheel installation. As further reinforcement, Greg created the Performance Handbook, a how-to publication on proper ways to mount, balance and work with performance tires. 

To help recognize outstanding tire dealers, Greg helped establish the MTD Dealer of the Year award over 20 years ago. The award provides a deserving tire dealer with recognition for accomplishments both within the industry and in the dealer’s local community. 

Greg helped launch Auto Service Professional magazine in 2010. The primary focus of Auto Service Professional is to provide high-level information to an audience of more than 150,000 automotive professional technicians whether they are business owners or technicians. 

From his early years in the market, Greg has been active participating on industry committees and boards. Among the early ones were APAA and ASIA, and has since participated in AWDA, SEMA, NTDRA, TIA and TANA.