Modern Tire Dealer

MAR 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D M a r c h 2 0 1 9 52 E u r o p e a n N o t e b o o k F alken Tire as part of the Sumitomo Rubber Industries Group is a leading tire manufacturer that is recognized as a major global brand that continues to gain market growth as a very ambitious company within the industry. Apart from being well known in North America, they are also viewed as a popular option throughout all European countries and particularly in the ultra-high performance sector which can be firmly attributed to the brand's ongoing success in motorsport events. I was recently invited to meet with Markus Bogner, managing director and chief operating officer of Falken Tire Europe GmbH at the division's headquarters in Offenbach, just outside Frankfurt, Germany, to exclusively discuss the European group's successes in 2018 and potential achievements for the year ahead in 2019. Bogner explained that Falken's main marketing focus has been through its positive involvement in motorsport throughout Europe for the past 20 years. ey are currently racing two cars — a new Porsche and an established BMW team — and it is anticipated that success on the track will continue during the coming year. Bogner adds, "However, in the past couple of years we have significantly broadened our market exposure and in particular turned toward professional (European) football sponsorship deals which at present totals an impressive 24 leading clubs across Europe including Liverpool FC (UK), Athletico Madrid and Seville (Spain) as the larger, more well-known clubs." It is also interesting to note that for 2019 the company has been appointed as the official sponsor of the 26th IHF Mens Handball World Championship in Denmark and Germany, which recently took place in January, and Bogner says, "is additional sponsorship project into European handball further enhances our promotional commitment in sporting events as part of Falken's brand strategy to continually expand our media presence in a number of different corporate avenues." When questioned about sales and product advancements during 2018, Bogner pointed out that the company had continued to grow its OE sales over the past two to three years and over the past 12 months they had commenced supplying tires for the new Mercedes G-Class Luxury SUV model which is fitted with its WildPeak A/ T3WA and AS210A patterns in size 265/60R18. He adds, "is latest OE partnership success further highlights our proven success in the SUV and off-road performance market sectors and we anticipate other premium vehicle manufacturers will join forces with Falken for exciting new product fitments in the future." Predictably my next question was, "It sounds like Falken is not just about performance tires in Europe then, so what other advancements has the brand made recently?" Markus explained, "Yes, that is correct, and in general there has been a progressive expansion of our tire range with an extensive amount of new sizes becoming available in the all-season, winter, truck and bus market sectors during the past 12 months. is includes the Eurowinter HS01 pattern which now offers 99 size options plus the Eurowinter HS01 SUV with 39 current sizes. At the same time, more sizes have been added to the popular Falken G1388 tire which specializes in regional transport and construction site operations." It also seems that Falken has been busy when it comes to tire testing in consumer magazines with impressive performances in Germany and the UK in 2018 by beating many more traditional premium manufacturers. Bogner firmly believes this has created a crucial turning point with the Falken brand now being recognized as a genuine contender in the premium tire field throughout Europe. He is sure this can be credited to the company's special design features through its unique 4DNANO process. is process has now been implemented across the entire tire range and ensures an even better grip and overall road performance. When I asked Bogner about what lies ahead this year he confirmed that there will be more OE product launches along with additional expansion of the tire size assortment which will incorporate new high performance patterns for the SUV and run-flat patterns in order to gain even wider corporate presence in Europe. He says, "ere is no doubt that 2018 was a very successful year for us with strong sales results in all European countries and volumes exceeded our expectations. We confidently expect this momentum to continue which will be boosted by our new research and development facility in Germany which is now fully operational." Bogner is adamant that Falken, having been able to meet the changing market demands in specific versions of tires for various OEMs and vehicle lines, can proceed even further as a leading brand in 2019, not just in Europe but on an international basis. ■ John Stone has been working within the global tire industry for the past 28 years. In 2004 he launched his own consulting company, Sapphire Media Service, which caters to business media clients around the globe. Stone also writes for tire and automotive-related publications in Europe, South Africa and Asia. A positive year behind them and more to come from Falken Europe John Stone By Markus Bogner credits Falken's involvement in racing for the Euro- pean group's success. The Falken Europe motorsport team races with a new Porsche and an established BMW team.

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