The 2012-13 winter season is almost over. However, the winter buying season for 2013-14 is here.
Nokian Tyres plc invited its largest dealers in North America to Finland to test its latest winter tires at its Ivalo Testing Center located 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish Lapland.
The Hakkapeliitta R2, Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV and WR G3 combine snow and ice traction with silica-based compounding for low rolling resistance. They are available through the parent company's North American subsidiary, Nokian Tyres Inc.
1. Hakkapeliitta R2. Like the tire it is designed to replace, the Hakkapeliitta R, the non-studded R2 features a directional symmetric tread pattern. It has superior ice and snow grip thanks to improved compounding and siping design, including dense sipes at different angles in the shoulder area.
The new compound also contains millions of sharp particles for traction. The company says it hopes to patent this technology -- what it calls its Cyro Crystal Concept.
Although Matti Morri, technical customer service manager, would not reveal what the particles are made of, he did say corn, rice or walnut shells weren't involved. He said that they last down to 4/32-inch tread depth, the minimum tread depth in Finland.
The Hakkapeliitta R2 will be available in 55 R-rated sizes ranging from 175/70R13 82R through 255/35R20 97R. Forty-four of the sizes are XL; nine are run-flat, including 245/45R18 100R XL run-flat.
2. Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV. According to Morri, the R2 SUV tire, also non-studded, requires greater stability than its car tire counterpart. Different compounding and stronger steel belts make it stable enough for 4x4s.
The tread pattern features a stiff center rib with a Driving Safety Indicator that tells the driver when 4/32-inch has been reached.
The Hakkapeliitta R2 SUV will be available in 38 R-rated sizes ranging from 235/75R15 105R through 255/55R19 111R XL. That includes two run-flat sizes: 225/60R17 99R and 255/50R19 107R XL.
3. WR G3. Available in two tread patterns, asymmetric and directional, the WR G3 high performance winter tire will replace the WR G2. The asymmetric design has different compounding for better mileage and handling for the United States and Canadian markets.
The first wave of sizes for the WR G3 are broken out as follows:
Asymmetric -- 25 XL sizes ranging from 205/65R16 99 H through 245/40R18 97V, and two run-flat sizes (205/55R16 91H and 205/45R17 91H).
Directional -- six sizes ranging from175/65R14 82T to 195/55R15 89V XL.
Both WR G3 designs, which Nokian said have "excellent slush and aquaplaning properties," were manufactured with "Silent Sidewall Technology" (less vibration in the bead area). Nokian said the technology also was used to produce the Hakkapeliitta 8, which was introduced in Europe this year and will be available in the U.S. next year.
For more information on the tire launch, check out these sites: