Modern Tire Dealer

APR 2019

Magazine for the professional tire industry

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M T D A p r i l 2 0 1 9 4 E d i t o r i a l E arlier this year, I was invited to attend the launch of the Continental VikingContact 7 in Montreal. "Cool," I thought. I have always liked winter tires, even back in the day when they were called snow tires. e evolution of the studless winter tire has brought all sorts of technology into tire design. Unique block shapes, snow-on-snow traction, sipes of every shape and size, what's not to like? But how did I know it was a winter tire? I instantly associ- ated Vikings with cold and ice and snow, so I thought it was a winter tire. Was that a fair assumption? I decided to look into it, because, well, I am a little anal. By all accounts, Vikings were skillful navigators based in Scandinavia some 1,200 years ago. Scandinavia is made up of the Nordic countries in Northern Europe, but despite their locations, the weather isn't crazy cold and snowy. According to www.tripsavvy.com, Scan- dinavian countries like Norway, Denmark, and Sweden and nearby Finland and Iceland "can be either a winter wonderland or balmy summer destination. e climate varies from north to south and from west to east, so each locale has a unique temperature signature. Depending on the month you travel to Scandinavia, travelers can expect to pack shorts, bundle up with a parka, or dress in layers to accommodate the fluctuations in weather." At the launch I was told the VikingCon- tact 7 featured a Nordic tread pattern, so I think it is fair to say Vikings and winter go together, at least in Europe. Closer to home, the National Football League's Minnesota Vikings are based in Minneapolis. e average annual snowfall in Minneapolis is close to 50 inches. In addition, Duluth, Minn., averages 60.6 days of measurable snow per year. at places it among the top 10 U.S. cities in that category, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. So associating the Minnesota Vikings with cold and snow seems appropriate. And no other state has more Nordic heritage than Minnesota. No wonder the team was officially dubbed Vikings when it entered the NFL in 1961. Here are two facts I also learned about the Vikings that Continental has chosen to leave out of its marketing material for the VikingContact 7 for now. One, women were highly respected by the men, and some of them became warriors in their own right. It appears they were very independent. And two, the Old Norse word "vikingr" refers to an adventurer (noun) or adventuring (verb) more than, say, Scandinavian pirate. When Continental was trying to come up with a new name for its winter tire line years ago, I'm pretty sure PirateContact wasn't considered. Having the launch in Montreal may have been a clue as to the tire's function, but I still feel vindicated: e name VikingContact 7 clearly serves its purpose, and is a good name for a winter tire. Indirectly Continental even gets to piggyback off of one of the most popular shows on television, "Vikings" on the History Channel. Vikings are hot in popular culture! e VikingContact 7 is not the only winter tire that is new to North America this year, however. For perspective, I also looked at the names of three other new winter tires. Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC introduced the Bridgestone Blizzak WS90 in February. What a great name for a winter tire. What else could it refer to? at is why all Bridgestone winter tires in the U.S. have used the name Blizzak since the early 1990s. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. introduced a name change to its winter tire lineup at its Customer Conference in Dallas in January. Ultra Grip Winter became WinterCommand with the introduction of the company's latest generation winter tire. Both names tell you what kind of tire it is. (When the Ultra Grip Ice comes up for replacement, I wonder if the name will be changed to IceCommand. Look for it!) Finally, Nokian Tyres plc, headquartered in Finland, launched its Hakkapeliitta LT3 winter tire. e name Hakkapeliitta has been used to sell Nokian winter tires since 1936; early on, they also were referred to as Snow Hakkapeliittas. Although it doesn't scream "winter tire," the name has been around so long that, especially in Europe, it is known as a winter tire. By the way, according to a number of online dictionaries, "Hakkapeliitta" is defined as a Finnish light cavalryman during the irty Years' War. Tire manufacturers spend a lot of fé (the Viking word for money) on tire names. e name itself isn't enough to sell the tire, but it sure helps. ■ If you have any questions or comments, please email me at bob.ulrich@bobit.com. What's in a name? WHY VIKING IS A GOOD FIT WHEN IT COMES TO WINTER TIRES Bob Ulrich By HAVING THE LAUNCH IN MONTREAL MAY HAVE BEEN A CLUE AS TO THE TIRE'S FUNCTION, BUT I STILL FEEL VINDICATED: THE NAME VIKINGCONTACT 7 CLEARLY SERVES ITS PURPOSE, AND IS A GOOD NAME FOR A WINTER TIRE.

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