Falken Tire Corp. plans to unveil two new lines of wheels and parts at the Specialty Equipment Market Association/International Tire Expo trade show in Las Vegas this November.
The new wheel lines, aimed at the import tuner and sport-utility vehicle markets, and the parts program for the ultra-high performance (UHP) market will be made for Falken by two manufacturers, according to Richard Smallwood, Falken vice president of sales and marketing. He declined to name the manufacturers.
Entering the wheels and parts market was a natural move for Falken in light of its gradual repositioning of itself from the general to the high-performance tire market, Mr. Smallwood explained.
``This is something we've been studying for a number of years,'' he said. ``We noticed our customers were buying the wheels and all these aftermarket products, so it really made logical sense to get into these new product lines.''
As a manufacturer, Falken's job is to provide its customers with profit opportunities, and the wheels and parts market clearly offered one, Mr. Smallwood added. ``We were already advertising to this market, so all we had to do was change our message slightly. We have strong recognition in the performance market, and these new lines extend that recognition.''
At the SEMA/ITE show, Falken will launch two import tuner styles of wheels, in diameters ranging from 16 to 19 inches, and two SUV styles ranging from 20 to 23 inches. The company will introduce two or three more styles by the end of 2003, though it's not yet certain what these styles will be.
``As we get a better handle on our customers' needs, we can add in more aggressive or less aggressive styles,'' Mr. Smallwood said. ``By adding them slowly, we can be more attuned to what our dealers need.''
Also at the Las Vegas trade show, Falken will debut a UHP component program that will include springs, carbon fiber and aluminum intakes and strut tower bars. These will be sold under Falken's Azenis brand name, Mr. Smallwood said.
Falken will ship the new products directly from its warehouses in Rancho Cucamonga, where the company is based, and in Nashville, Tenn.
As previously announced, the company plans to leave the Nashville warehouse early in 2003 for a new, 300,000-sq.-ft. distribution center in Lebanon, Tenn., which will carry the entire Falken line of products and serve the eastern U.S.
Falken is the U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Ohtsu Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd.